Coat Dress

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I love when items are multipurpose. It’s always a delightful surprise; “look! This chair is made of edible plant based protein!”. When versatility translates to clothing it’s just as fun. I bought this lightweight jacket in Tel Aviv on my most recent trip to Israel. Tel Aviv has some excellent avant- guard fashion. I love going to Israel and really treasure what I find there, whether it’s an item of religious significance or anything else. I stayed in the artsy area of Neve Tzedek with my daughter in February. While wandering the little side streets I found this great boutique, Juliette. I loved this light as air, color blocked jacket. I loved the contrast of the gray and blush pink, the popped collar, and the drawstring cords. And of course that it wasn’t clear if it was a jacket or dress. Let’s make it both. I love adding to the color blocking with a clean white shoe, be it a sneaker, flat, or bootie. I wore this to synagogue recently and it was a super cool five second look. Effortless, chic, and innovative.

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Fish and Slaw

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 This dish is much prettier than how I lazily titled this post (not sure why I crapped out here on creativity). It’s a fantastic lunch or dinner for warm weather. Crisp, colorful slaw is gorgeous on the eyes, fresh in the mouth, and is the perfect accompaniment to a cleanly sautéed or grilled piece of fish. I used Dorado here but I leave that to you. I love making salads that are bright, beautiful, and light. I never make creamy or thick dressings because I don’t eat them. The idea of mayo on a salad makes me 🤢. Most of the Lady Blaga dressings are similar vinaigrette’s since that’s how I cook and eat. I’d never drown a salad, it’s just not appealing to me. This was a delight to put together, fun to plate, and even better to eat.

For the salad:

A bag of shredded purple cabbage

Half a bag of shredded carrots

Two handfuls of white bean sprouts

A handful of golden raisins

A couple of handfuls of dried soybeans for crunch and texture- Relax, I wore gloves.

Half a cup of packed, chopped flat leaf parsley and a third of a cup of julienned fresh mint leaves. Mint in a salad is always a winner. 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the dressing; a third of a cup each extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, three tbsp apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk well and gently toss over the dressing. Set aside or plate, then cook the fish. I bought two dorado fillets, skin on. I seasoned the non skin side with salt and peeper. I heated a large skillet with a couple tbsp of olive oil and let it heat very well. I placed the fish skin side down, let it cook 3 to 4 minutes until the skin was crisped, flipped it carefully, then cooked the other side over lower heat until golden brown. Serve a piece of fish alongside the slaw for a lovely, healthy, complete meal. You can totally make this into fish tacos using soft tortillas and guacamole.

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Prayer Giver

Here’s what’s uncomfortable for me about prayer; if I’m asking for something that means I don’t currently have it. It’s hard to need something and admit we are falling short in a specific department. If we’re talking about praying in terms of communicating with a higher power, I’m down. Love it, never doubted it. I’m not shy; if I can talk to a wall then certainly I can talk with Source. But as far as asking or pleading for something, well, that makes me feel like I’m in a very disempowered space. I know that’s just my perception that’s most likely based on old standards of perfection I was held to since childhood. The criticisms I’d get for not doing or being what was expected of me. Which morphed into adult judgement if I didn’t provide for everyone around me at all times. Therefore, admitting I’m not providing for myself is a bitter pill to swallow. Also, givers have a hard time asking for things. I’ve become so much better in that area. In fact I’d say it’s no longer an issue in most 3D ways. I’ve found that I feel I’m nurturing myself when I can ask others for things, whether it’s emotional support or help with carpool. People generally like to help, so an instant connection is established between the giver and the receiver. It feels nice. But when I’m praying for strength, wisdom, guidance, discipline, or clearing out old systems, I don’t like admitting I’m not handling that on my own. I feel weak, like I’m begging. And it makes me feel very uneasy to ask for wisdom and strength that I am lacking. My tendency to be hard on myself (sup, a lifetime of such conditioning) goes to that place of feeling deficient. Rationally I know that’s silly and false. Of course it’s ok, healthy, and expected to turn to Source. For anything at anytime. Who else is better equipped to hold our hand? But that deeply private level of vulnerability can be scary to talk about. There are only two options; asking for assistance or denying we need any. Clearly one is the better route and truthfully, discomfort is ok. We are so wired to run from anything that brings up uneasiness. Lately I’ve been praying (I hate that to me this equals pleading) for help in guiding certain energies I was pouring outward back to me. To reroute the same feelings just towards myself, where they belong. I feel it working as I imagine gusts of energy entering me, which fills me with tenderness and elation (love). I have also been redirecting that energy towards embracing the magic of uncertainty. Which is really the kicker for me right now. In a space of uncertainty anything is possible. Since there’s no need to be right, then there’s no room for wrong. One can’t exist without the other. It’s a necessity polarity. The key to embracing uncertainty fully is trust. So what this really is enforcing is just that. Which is the essence of prayer; we ask because we trust the recipient of our request with the preciousness of our deepest needs. And yes, while asking for help can feel uncomfortable, it’s a far lousier feeling to willingly remain stuck in heavy, limiting holding patterns. Ask or stuff the freedom of change down your throat where it’s sure to eat you up from the insides. Prayer has existed literally forever since we are designed to do it. It’s like refusing to breathe or eat, in that a part of you might die without it. The soul craves it. It’s both a relief and a release to unload our deepest pains onto a listening, non judgmental force. It’s a conversation we are forced to have with ourselves before we share it. It gives shape to our needs, hurts, and desires. Prayer comes in many forms. It is according to your design. It requires no book, just a truthful heart. So yeah, I’ve been asking for extra guidance and reinforcement lately. There’s a limiting energy I’ve been stuck in for too long. As always, talking to someone helps. May you receive support and guidance for whatever it is you may need help with at this moment. Please don’t ever think you’re going through life unheard. It only works if you believe it.

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Apres Shabbos

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 If you’re an observant Jew, the words “after Shabbos” are part of your vernacular. It’s always been so amusing to me that this day of rest which we all look forward to, gets forgotten about in two seconds as soon as it’s technically over. Even from childhood that transition from quiet and staying put to tv, phone calls, and a maniacal need to make plans has made me anxious. It’s too startling a shift. It still bothers me; “what’s the rush?” I’ll hold onto tranquility as much as I can. It saddens me that my kids, and certainly myself, lunge for our phones as soon as we can. That driving need for technology and distraction. Oh well, such is modern life. At least we do have the gift of those stripped down 25 hours once a week.

I don’t view Shabbos as religious. Personally, I see it as required detox that does indeed force us to sit with ourselves. If done mindfully, we will automatically connect to God. I wish everyone would keep it, not just Jews. I’ve always felt blessed to have been raised with Shabbos in my routine. Having said that, I ordered this custom tank top from my fave Kidd’s boutique, Gigi and Lo. My friend Elisha who owns the store is a hilarious human. I look at her and laugh. Her humor and pizazz shine through in her incredibly curated inventory. Her children’s clothing ranges from classy and understated to “rah rah let’s party!”. There’s something for everyone taste wise. I saw Elisha designing custom “apres pool” children’s wear on her instagram last year. I loved the nod to the whole “apres ski” genre; that category alone is so satirical to me. My crazy Jewess brain naturally went to “apres Shabbos” and Elisha was happy to bring my lil vision to fruition.  This tank cracks me up. I will incorporate humor anywhere I can. I love pairing this silly shirt with a more serious pants suit. This look here was a great transitional move. A light boyfriend blazer that is easily removed when temperatures warm up. A tank and leather pants never need an explanation. These rad shades were found on sale in a random bin in a nutso boutique in Tel Aviv, which leads me to believe they might not actually be Miu Miu (who cares). Peeps, I highly recommend paying Gigi and Lo a visit. It’s located in Teaneck, New Jersey. It’s a magnificent store with a delightful range of children’s clothing and accessories. You’ll have the best dressed kid at the party (not that you care about that, of course not).

Blaga for the WIN

If you’ve been following my stories, or if you’re one of my three friends who know about my life but don’t have Instagram, then you are aware I DJ’d the WIN Summit recently in NYC. Let me start by saying this gig was exactly a year after my first big gig at the Surrey Hotel Rooftop. To the day. I am truly blown away by what has transpired in that year. Personally, professionally, musically, emotionally, and spiritually. My whole demeanor, attitude, and confidence level was completely different than last May. Before the Surrey gig I cried and threw a tantrum towards my instructor (who laughed in my face). This time around I was calm, excited, and ready to roll. This gig was more involved, in that I played at three different points throughout, each with a different mood and set list. I enjoyed this aspect very much. I love a vibe challenge as well as meeting the varying needs of the crowd. Music is obviously an important sensory experience, so I wanted to provide that on as deep a level as I could. It was fun watching some bumping and grooving in this corporate environment. It’s a kick for me when people let loose when they may not have expected that to happen. 

At the private dinner the night before the main summit, each speaker went around the table, introduced themselves, and spoke about their company and how they’ve contributed to the topic of Women In Negotiation (WIN). I sat at the table in between spinning as well, and what I said was this. I honestly and plainly stated that I had nothing to add in terms of women negotiating in the workplace since I’ve never been in a typical workplace. My only exposure to an office has been watching “The Office”. I did not even graduate college (not my fault; bed rest while pregnant). So my hook was how several years ago I had to negotiate with myself. How I was at a clear crossroads in all areas of my life. I had to come to the conclusion, after years of desperately needing some sort of promotion, that I was indeed going to advocate for myself in life. Give myself that raise no one else thought I deserved. Learn new things so I could increase my value in my own mind. It was that or quit. I noted that no one at that table did not at one point go through rounds of self negotiation before they could then state their case to their superior.  These women had spent years learning their worth before they could assert themselves professionally. They, on a deeper level, had to have believed they were worthy and deserving of being seen, heard, and recognized. I saw the heads nodding and the  not so quiet “Amens!” Everyone likes a personal story. It makes the speaker more relatable and open. In the five minutes that I had the mic, I felt I could connect by going that route. It never fails me because it’s authentic. Listen, I can’t go toe to toe with a financial powerhouse from UBS in a numbers discussion. I can’t talk about leading a team of hundreds in Silicon Valley. I know an embarrassingly little amount about politics (does Veep count??). But I know what it means to fight for yourself from your heart, and what it means to wrestle with your head in order to get to where you need to be in life. I’ve learned painful lessons about self worth that came in layers of introspective honesty, patience, and compassion. Not to mention courage.  I’ve learned to know what it means to manifest your new life, and to love the present while dreams of the future are seen so clearly they feel as if they’ve already happened. I’ve learned that the sky is the limit if your vibration is one of joy, truth and passion. I’ve learned to struggle through seemingly endless obstacles and roadblocks in order to achieve. I’ve learned to ignore the often wounding and hurtful remarks from those who don’t support you, because it hurts way worse to not honor yourself. I’ve learned that if your vision is pure, you will organically get to where you need to go. A big smile and some appropriate chutzpah doesn’t hurt.         

The women I met at WIN were a new species that I was fortunate enough to observe. It was frankly the first time I’ve ever encountered female professionals and pioneers on such a mass scale. It was a treat to walk amongst them for a day and a half. I learned a lot, especially about how there are so many good sisters out there who genuinely want to lead and inspire, like I hope to do. And if I get to be the creative, musical fairy in glittery pants, then so be it. Oh right, that’s another way to get what you want; stand the F out🏻. Every human, regardless of gender, has the responsibility to negotiate for themselves in every way. This applies to love, friendship, leadership, and being compassionate. It all starts with knowing we are deeply worthy of all that life has to offer. We are the source of all things that have made it into our lives. Self negotiation should never really stop since self study should never stop. We know better, we do better🏻🏻. GET. ITTTTTTTTTT. 

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Rose’ Fruit Salad

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Easiest. Summer. Dessert. Ever. This was a last minute addition to our most recent food shoot. I was frantically trying to prep all my recipes, and the fire department had just showed up since apparently I forgot how to make toast. I like to be as efficient as possible during these shoots. Squeezing in as many recipes as possible is clearly ideal.

The night before I had bought some summer stone fruit for my son. He loves peaches, apricots, and plums. I love them too and it’s joyful each time they reappear at the market. I knew I had a bottle of Rose’ chilling in the fridge and voila; what’s faster and fresher than having some gorgeous fruit soak in some wine? This is the perfect light dessert for anyone who needs to end each meal on a sweet note, like this girl right here. Most fruits should work but the combo I threw together was perfect.

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I used a large white peach sliced, two apricots sliced, blackberries, blueberries, and two blood oranges cleaned and separated into segments.

I gently tossed them with 3 tbsp of Rose’, covered the bowl in plastic wrap, and chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’d say do this for Max an hour so the fruit doesn’t get soggy. Add an extra tbsp of the wine if you want it stronger, but I liked how the 3 tbsp were there yet subtle; the fruit is so delicious on its own. Divide gently into little white bowls and garnish each with one perfect whole mint leaf.  People, summer is finally here.

Must Have Mala

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Another item I do not leave home without are my mala beads. Given to me by my yoga teacher as a gift while doing a 40 hour workshop at my studio, this 108 bead I necklace is always on my person. It reminds me to be preset, stay calm, that peace is always available to me, and to be patient. As in, I’ll count them with a mantra while waiting in line. That’s practical, immediate patience, not just more abstract “trust the process” patience. I once lent them to a woman sobbing on a plane. I counted them on line with my son at a museum. I pray on them during flight turbulence. I wear them on my wrist wrapped as a bracelet or as a necklace. They make me feel safe and aware during uncomfortable encounters. This particular one is a brown wood. It’s neutral and goes with anything, as does yogic philosophy. Essentially the mala beads remind me of how I want to conduct myself. They also remind me that I’m not merely an individual. That I’m part of something so much greater on a cosmic and collective level. I feel connected to anyone else I see wearing them. They evoke warmth in me when I think of my special spiritual community in New Jersey. I left this set at a store a few weeks ago. Not knowing if I’d see them again I took to Amazon and bought a bunch more in a variety of colors. I love layering them or wearing one on each wrist. I’ve wrapped them around an ankle too. They’re truly a comfort to me and hold me to a higher, more conscious standard of living. They represent a natural state of being, which is a healthy antidote to fashion. 

Healthy carrot cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed super fine blanched almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)

  • ½ cup coconut flour (do not pack)

  • ½ cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Wet ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup drippy tahini

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil

  • 3 cups shredded carrots (medium grate)

  • Optional mix-ins:

  • ½ cup raisins

  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  • For the frosting:

  • ½ cup salted butter, at room temperature (or sub vegan buttery stick)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (or sub dairy free cream cheese)

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (any milk will work)

  • For the topping:

  • Extra pecans and shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of three 6-inch round cake pans or two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper rounds. Spray parchment paper and sides of pan with nonstick cooking spray. YOU SHOULD USE PARCHMENT PAPER or the cake is likely to stick. Please do not forget.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour, coconut flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pure maple syrup, tahini, almond milk, vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted and cooled coconut oil until it’s well incorporated, the stir in the carrots. Note: It is important that your eggs are at room temperature otherwise the coconut oil with coagulate. The coconut oil should be melted but not HOT, but rather closer to room temp.

  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in raisins and nuts, if using.

  5. Divide batter evenly between pans and spread out with a spatula to smooth the tops. Bake for 22-32 minutes in the two 8-inch pans and 30-40 minutes for three 6-inch pans.

  6. Cakes are done when a tester comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting or removing from the pans. The cake should be room temperature when you frost it. This is very important. Cakes can be made a day ahead if you’d like.

  7. Make your frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the softened butter and cream cheese and whip on high until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk and beat for 2-3 minutes more.

  8. Now it’s time to frost the cake: place about 1 tablespoon down onto onto the cake stand and spread out. Invert cake onto the cake stand, add about ½ heaping cup frosting between each layer, repeat with each cake, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate cake with pecans and shredded coconut on top. Once you are done frosting, place the cake to the fridge. Cake will stay good for 5-7 days in the fridge, and should be covered to ensure freshness. Serves 16.

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Modeh Ani

There’s a Hebrew prayer in Judaism that we are supposed to say upon waking up each morning. I’ve been saying it with my kids for years on the drive to school. We say it in Hebrew then our own loose translation of it, which is , ”Thank you, Hashem, for this beautiful day”. If it’s raining, sunny, or has other obvious defining characteristics we insert that adjective too. It’s a lovely tradition I started many years ago en route to preschool with my oldest. The ride to school is fast, but even if we could sneak in a line or two about how the rain is beautiful because it helps things grow, then I’d feel it was the right way to start the day. After all, what is prayer without proper intention, and there’s no better lens of gratitude than the pure mind of a child.

I’ve been thinking about this particular prayer lately; are we thankful that we didn’t die overnight or are we thankful to have another day to be alive? There’s a huge difference between both meanings. Most Jews I know are consumed with death. The fear level among the physically healthy is sadly staggering. Pretty much everyone I know assumes they’ll get cancer at some point, it’s just a matter of time. We buy cemetery plots by the bulk, as if shopping for a party at Costco. The family I was raised in loves obsessing about illness and death. No group of people jumps at the chance to participate in a hospital vigil more. They set up shop, bringing food, knitting, and whatever else needed to hunker down in a hospital hallway. It’s unfortunately part of the  post Holocaust trickle down affect, where the threat of death literally lurked in every corner. Since most people I know are Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, they remain traumatized by many facets of the war even decades later. It’s a combination of learned behavior and unintegrated pain and fear that has never been excised from these families. Different time, different knowledge, different emotional skill set, different priorities; I understand. However, the residual grim negativity and neuroses remains very much a thing. I too used to be obsessed with my own mortality. I lived in fear for the day when I or a loved one would be yanked from this life. That stopped once I began inner healing and grew to become in love not just with my own life, but with the gift of life in general. Obsessing about death is the mind’s way of preparing us for it, though of course that’s never possible. If we envision it then maybe the impact will be less shocking. We will see it coming. We will be on top of the terrible situation. It’s a pretty funny yet macabre scenario when someone dies in my neighborhood, and actual fights break out over which yenta will be the reigning queen of the shiva house. It’s unreal. A person just lost their life, the family is in the throes of grief, and certain women race to the finish line to gain control of the shiva meal schedule. They are addicted to the accolades so the self righteous impulsivity takes over.  It’s essentially zero perspective and incredible self absorption, under the guise of help. But I digress. Well, not really. There’s always more than one way to look at things. Am I helping this grieving family for the right reasons and don’t need public recognition for it, or do I need some warped form of attention? Am I opening my eyes each morning in wonder and loving awareness of life, or am I relieved I outran the Angel of Death after I passed out watching Bravo? Like all things, prayer comes from a place of love or fear. It’s loving our wondrous eyes (our eyes!!) and being grateful to use them for another 24 hours, as opposed to being frightened they won’t work. And if we did survive the night, then what for? To just trudge through the same cycle as per usual, only to go to sleep with the same fears over and over until it’s really over? It’s not enough to be thankful to wake up. It must be that we understand the purpose of life. If we don’t the words kind of land nowhere. The point of prayer is to connect, and connection comes from a deep source within us before it can be felt outwards. God is smart; He knows you’re glad to be alive. I don’t think He gave us these prayers to test our manners like a school marm. I believe they were given to us to think about why we say them. What are words without meaning? Not much. What is a day without meaning, or an hour? Again, not much. It’s not being alive that counts. It’s what we do with that fact that matters. This isn’t a rah rah post about empowerment. Quite the opposite; it’s a post about the bliss that stems from humility. We have a job to do, and it’s not doing errands and making the meeting. It’s not even your professional human job. Yes, those things are important and essential for life. Our professions help us contribute to our families and to others, but we weren’t put here just to do them.  I’ve heard Buddhist monks say that we must be tapped into the dharma as well as know our social security number. Both matter. One just matters more. So it’s not the inaction of not dying overnight that matters. We didn’t escape death. Those things aren’t up to us. It’s the action of honoring the joy of life, of doing and being good, of helping everyone and harming no one, and of relieving pain and suffering however we can. The intentions we have for praying will only really have the right ripple effect if we fully grasp the enormity of what we’re saying. God doesn’t need your words; He needs your presence. It’s why He put you here. I’m grateful you opened your eyes today. Thank you for seeing me and reading this. I see you too.

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The Dao of Frances Hausman

There’s a scene in Dirty Dancing, arguably the greatest movie of all time (I said arguably), in which Johnny cries out to Baby (real name Frances Hausman, but you knew that) that he’s so petrified of life and she’s not afraid of anything. Of course by “life” he meant he was too scared to stand up to that twerp Neil, who was infuriatingly insisting that the dance finale of the staff talent show be the pachanga. Baby tried to encourage him to fight for his vision and overcome his feelings of intimidation (you know this as well). Johnny burst forth with differentiating between him and her; he was poor, at the mercy of The Man, and afraid to lose his job. She was wealthy, privileged, didn’t have to fear being ejected from the Catskills, and was an inherently courageous girl “not afraid of anything”. “Me?? I’m afraid of EVERYTHING!”, she replied. It was an exchange of honesty that added new depth to their summer romance, as did changing in the car en route to the Sheldrake to perform the mambo. This all came to mind recently when a few women told me they look at me and see a women afraid of nothing. They were specifically talking about becoming a DJ, but also other major transitions I’ve made too. I was taken aback since prior to the DJ thing as well as those other major shifts, I felt like a young girl who was absolutely petrified of all of it. I was literally riddled with fear. I’m doing tons of shadow work that began years ago but majorly intensified this past summer. The realizations of things I need to look at keep coming in waves, some violent and some more subtle. But all contain the underlying common fear factor. I have been storing a large body of fear since childhood that I’m just now learning to manage. I am learning this with a book you all must order right now.  I’m serious. It’s medicine in print. There isn’t a human on earth who shouldn’t read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Dana, I love you so much for telling me about this. Our culture teaches us to distract ourselves from anything unpleasant and to run from any negative feelings. The mind is on board with this since the function of the mind is to keep us safe. So it strategizes and we listen to protect ourselves from further pain. The mind might tell you to drink, pop a pill, work out, turn on the radio to drown out your thoughts, seek physical affection to soften the edge of hurt, turn on the TV, call a friend, or engage in an activity in which you excel. Some means of distraction are problematic and some are positive, but all are a means of avoiding pain in the moment. Friends, hugs, music, and going to the gym are great; just don’t use them to keep looking away from your deep reservoirs of icky stuff. The more we resist any form of hurt, the stronger the beast becomes. The more we try to stuff it down, the more we leave it alone to regenerate. This is why we can feel consumed and powerless when the wave of your personal pain body hits. It can be anger, sadness, frustration, self pity, fear etc. It hits without warning at unexpected or expected triggers. But here’s the thing, it’s hitting us to inform us that we need to direct our attention there. It’s not there to torture us. It’s there to lead us down the path to self healing. But first we must enter thorn covered gates of pain in order to open into the field of loveliness and warmth that resides within. There’s no way to skip the line. Sorry, Jews, I know how much you hate waiting on line. I’ll give you an example. The other day I was having a really good day. Then something happened and I was seized with terror. Bat to the knees, chest and head exploding terror. It was a very tough trigger and my entire system reacted as it always has. I was going to be in trouble. I was going to be punished. I felt hunted and victimized.  I was in a state of genuine fright. Fear is the great anticipation of pain, and I was being faced with a situation that was guaranteed to be painful. I was in my car at the time. My hand instinctively reached to turn on the radio, since that’s what it’s always done. My brain sent the message to my body to distract me to protect me. But this other part of me said, no, I’m going to feel this now. I imagined my little self staring at this Fear Thing. It was ME seeing IT, not the other way around. It’s like confronting a bully that will always inevitably begin to skulk away after it realizes it has far less power than previously thought. I saw the fear, fully knowing it had come to visit me in that moment. I neither identified with it nor pushed it away. I didn’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug with its ancestors. I allowed it to be there and guess what? It passed through me quite quickly. My day resumed normally, productively, and fairly well. That moment of fear didn’t throw it off course. I kept my composure throughout by holding myself with clarity and awareness as to what was occurring. Such is the nature of the human condition. We are electromagnetic fields of constantly changing energy. We will be visited by thousands of joys and sorrows, all of which will leave only to return and leave again. The only constant is us and that inner spaciousness that is our design. We know it’s there because that’s what allows for thoughts and feelings to fill it temporarily. Only that which was once empty can be filled. It’s knowing how to hold onto true self love during these crazy fluctuations that creates a much better quality of life. There’s peace in knowing we aren’t out of control and at the mercy of external forces. Running away from anything reinforces the notion that we are too weak to handle what it is we are trying to escape. It’s not true though. Thoughts aren’t the truth. Ironically, the great strength in self care and self healing comes from accessing this incredible ability to direct tremendous compassion inward. We have such an easier time giving compassion to others. It’s much harder to give it to ourselves. It’s something no one else can do for us, which is what makes it such a magical power. Through whatever seemingly awful feeling that’s overtaking us at the moment, the gentle goal must be to hold ourselves with tender love and compassion as it passes through our person. Imagine yourself as a three year old who is afraid/angry/sad/ashamed and comforting that child with this protective love no matter what it’s going through. This is done while fully acknowledging and seeing whatever monster has come to visit. Just as it came, it will eventually leave. What will remain will be your ability to love yourself unconditionally through all circumstances. I’m really oversimplifying this, but this is the key to accessing the Buddha nature within you. You have it. You really have it. It’s seeing ourselves with a wise, clear, loving heart and not running from anything that eventually enables us to act well despite the fears and shames. This is a lifetime of practice but trust me, it’s the key to a better life. As we heal on an individual level we then start to heal those around us, which then begins to heal the greater collective. That’s what is meant by love and compassion originating from within, and what it means when we hear we can only love others as well as we love ourselves. I had no idea what that meant until I read this book and started listening to the loving wisdom of Jack Kornfield (podcasts and you tube). These daily tools have been life altering. The world is already a different place to me, and I loved it before. As I’m learning to manage my fear by holding myself with unconditional love, I think back to how I began to shift my life several years ago while being consumed with terror. I did it because I had another set of fears that were stronger than feeling inadequate, small, and intimidated. That was the fear of regret. The fear of regret outweighed the fear of throwing myself into the unknown of a new identity and new life. That’s what I told those women who see me as this brave woman taking her life by force. It’s not that I wasn’t scared. It’s that I was able to find that part of me that refused to go down without trying. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you are but you go forth anyway. Thank you, Fear, I see you. You can sit next to me. You’re less scary when I give you permission to visit. But soon I’m going to get up and live my life according to my truth. Thank you for redirecting me to the inner teacher of love. I couldn’t have gotten to her without you.

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CHICKPEA SALAD WITH PESTO

Ingredients

  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

  • 1 cup finely diced bell peppers, assorted colors

  • 1/2 cup thin sliced Persian cucumber (these are the small ones,) do not peel

  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella pearls

  • 1/2 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

  • 1/3 cup quartered small radishes

  • 1/3 cup diced black olives

  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion

  • fresh cracked black pepper

  • pesto dressing (this will make more than you need, use the rest on pasta!)

  • 2 large handfuls fresh basil leaves and part of the stems

  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed and peel removed

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • a good grating of fresh Parmesan (as much or as little as you like)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, give or take

  • salt to taste

  • garnish

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast in a little olive oil in a skillet for several minutes, stirring constantly until they turn nutty brown.)

  • lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Put the drained, rinsed, and dried chickpeas in a large salad bowl along with the rest of the salad ingredients.

  2. To make the pesto dressing, process the basil, garlic, and lemon briefly until it breaks down into a thick paste. Add the cheese and enough olive oil to make a loose pourable consistency. Add salt to taste, and more cheese, and/or lemon if you like.

  3. Toss the salad with just enough pesto to thoroughly coat everything. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts, a good grinding of fresh cracked pepper, and accompanied by a couple of lemon wedges.

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Blaga’s Season Must Have

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One of my top three warm weather must haves are sarongs in a variety of colors and patterns. As I continue down the boho chic style path (barefoot), which I’m loving, I have been showing my sarong collection some big hippie chic love. I say “collection” because I have been acquiring more lately on my travels. I have recently been fortunate enough to have traveled to several South American countries. These places have some wonderful fabrics in every color and pattern you can imagine. Batik, watercolor florals, elephants, embroidery, striped, you name it. Gone are the days where sarongs are only used on the beach. I have been also wearing mine as scarves for both head and neck, as a tube top knotted behind my back, as a halter dress, a strapless dress belted or not, as a chic outdoor blanket, a summer tablecloth, a shawl, and of course as a sexy skirt on the beach. Last week in Florida I wore my old embroidered white one slung low on my hips with an open linen button down shirt over my bikini top and mala bead necklace. It was an awesomely effortless and practical poolside look. I’d even wear a sarong as a regular skirt on a hot day. I love repurposing everything and I always have a sarong in my beach bag since they’re so versatile. I’ve also used them as pretty picnic blankets, which creates such a fresh summery vibe even if you’re spontaneously lunching in the middle of a city. Those of you with babies can use them as light blankets or to drape over the stroller to shield your pup from the sun. I bet most of you own at least one sarong; this summer season make extra use out of this always pretty and purposeful item.

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Ruth Gans Mayer Dairy Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

2 lbs. granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced

1/4 cup apple cider

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 cup butter

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. In a 2 qt casserole, combine apples and cider.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Cut butter until crumbly. Spread sugar topping over apples and butter pieces on top.

Bake for 40-45 min.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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I ❤️🗽🚕

 Culture blah blah blah.... Restaurants blah blah blah... Theater blah blah blah... Nope, this ain’t that kind of I ️love New York post.

New York is representing something very specific at this stage in my life. It represents possibility. I’m always reading about many facets of the human condition, from the psychological to the spiritual and whatever I can find in between. Whatever the school of thought, there is constant mention about how people shrink themselves by locking their lives into these sad, tiny containers that can only hold so much. We build set perimeters around our existences and foolishly label them lives. There is almost no end to what human beings can accomplish. If someone can twist their body into a crazy yoga pose, so can you. If someone can scale a mountain, so can you. You might not want to, I sure as hell don’t, but you mostly likely posses the ability. We are created with these untapped, vast capabilities we often never discover by designing these incredibly lacking 3D human experiences. Think about it; at any given moment we could be whining about the same dumb thing we were five years ago, while there’s a doctor volunteering in some godforsaken country. Or an impoverished child sharing her food with another hungry youth. We have an endless stream of choices that shapes our days. I have a friend who has literally been complaining about the same topic for 17 years. Nothing has changed. Things don’t change unless we change first.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what New York symbolizes regarding divorce. We live near the greatest city in the world. No other place has burst forth with as much passion, innovation, creativity, music, fashion, craziness, and variety. Anything and everything can and does happen here. This is true of being divorced as well; it’s a major opportunity to completely change course. Anything that did not serve you in your last chapter can be reworked. Refreshed. Rejuvenated. In this sense it’s a gift. As I’m meeting more divorced people, men and women, it strikes me how even though all these people claim to have gotten divorced because their former situation wasn’t working for them, half of them lapse into the same unconscious choices they made before. The chance at greatness is being squandered by the lure of familiarity disguised as safety. They broke free and started to run, only to give up before they hit their stride. I shouldn’t care but I do (I guess I shouldn’t care about a lot of things but I can’t help it). It’s so frustrating. I’m thinking , “I know you want better so go get it!!” What it boils down to is an utter lack of self awareness and vision. It takes time to learn the new you and unlearn the old. Lots of time and introspection. Patience. Kindness. Self love. Just because you made the step to get divorced, it doesn’t mean you have a new life. You only have a new life if you work your ass off to create one. Signing a piece of paper doesn’t guarantee you a brand new start. Not if you’re going to stop yourself before you had a chance to believe that you can have what you claim to want. The spiritual teachers warn us not to shrink the magnificent essence of what it means to be alive with stupid bullshit. If we remain truly tapped into the splendor of loving awareness that we are at all times, we don’t get bent out of shape about most 3D concerns. Traffic becomes irrelevant. The friend who slighted you doesn’t become a topic of conversation. Your need to be right evaporates. If we are conscious and aware then we make choices that better jive with that belief. If we think we are small we keep playing small, case closed. Who we date, what we eat, who our friends are, what we read, how we spend our free time. All of it is a direct reflection of what we believe we are. Belief that you’re a limited person will keep you stuck in that stale storyline. A Tony Robbins type of motivational speaker will deliver a similar message. So will a Mark Groves kind of therapist. The common denominator is that WE MUST STOP PLAYING SMALL. IT IS HALF A LIFE. YOU ARE WAAAAAYYYYY MORE THAN THAT SO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO UNDERSTAND THAT. Why do people become so moved staring at the vastness of the ocean, a field of wildflowers, or a clear, starry night sky? Because it reminds us of possibility. Greatness. Openness. Depths we cannot see. Distances we think we will never travel. Why is the heart connected to the element of air? Because our capacity to love has zero bounds. None. No limits. Our bodies are finite so it’s hard to comprehend that what’s inside it is without shape. I get that; it sounds so unfamiliar to those of us used to everything being in set formation. Schedules, thoughts, meals, words, songs, everything seems to have a beginning and an end. True, that all does. But we don’t, which is why we’re so superior and so blessed. It hit me yesterday why right now I’m having such a love affair with this city, in addition to the obvious cool factor. It’s not that. I don’t care about trends or any of that nonsense. It’s because New York represents freedom of spirit. And life without that is a form of death. Living here and not taking advantage of all this place offers equates not living life to the fullest within your heart. What a shame; to be so fortunate to have this incredible opportunity and let it float away because you were too small to want bigger. Wanting gets you nothing but unfulfilled dreams. Dreams, People!!! Dreams are so major, they exist to become reality. We want that, right? Stop wanting and start backing up your own claims by creating for yourself. Don’t stop until you go to bed smiling every night. I’m not talking about easy. I’m talking about big. Once you tap into the enormity of who you are the difficulties of life have such less power over you. You can get divorced ten times and make the same shrinking moves each time, landing you not much further than where you began. There are times for baby steps and times for leaps. But if you never leap you’ll never live in accordance with your inherent design, which is sheer splendor , power, and magnitude. What a waste of a pre war rent controlled apartment.

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Anna Sui, Remember Me?

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Boy, do I recall how excited I was to buy this Anna Sui silk, billowy top. I acquired this 20 years ago. I had been a rabid fan of her designs for years, and even having a sock from one of your fashion idols is thrilling. I still love this shirt. The tan, red, and blue color scheme feels vintage to me, while the loose fit feels boho. Thank god I didn’t give this away in one of my bi annual frantic closet cleaning binges. A few years went by where I didn’t wear it but I never wanted to get rid of it. Now it’s a vintage Anna Sui piece. Always hold on to your designer stuff!! The blouse works tucked in or out I happen to like a blousy look, but it’s also nice accentuate the fact that you’re not pregnant. Hence the tight jeans. I love this hat, you’ve seen it before. I always get sad when the time to put away my fabulous winter hats arrives. But that means the straw ones that I’ve been collecting for decades. They need fresh air too. This is a good seasonally transitional look; fitted denim, a silk shirt in a warm color palette, and a wide brim hat to add some drama and depth. I’d wear this under my vintage fur vest you’ve seen dozens of times. It’s cool how even a subtle designer item can elevate an outfit.