I just called to say I love you

In the summer of 2015, I lost both my grandfathers within a month. The hole in my heart mourned the absence of two dearly loved role models. However, I was grateful. Grateful that their deaths were not unexpected, and that I’d had the opportunity to say what I needed to before their souls left this earth. The lesson that stuck with me was the importance of having no regrets. To not leave any love, affection, admiration, gratitude, or compliments for another day. To say them NOW.

Sometimes it may seem strange or excessive to express warm and fuzzy feelings. We may worry the other person will be confused or weirded out, or that we’ll look too sensitive, emotion-full, or out of character. [Our egos are such divas and worry-warts, aren’t they?] Now, I’d rather let others know how talented, valued, and extraordinary they are. Leave no kind word unsaid. Because you never know. 

fall-heart

That summer taught me to tell people how much they mean to me, as often as I can. I didn’t want it to take a health scare or death to prioritize what’s important in life and to me. Since then, I’ve made it a point to share gratitude and compliments–to start conversations of caring–which has strengthened my relationships with family and friends. Maybe it’s my perception, but when you decide to freely communicate from your heart, there can only be deeper connection and understanding as a result.

Some people don’t know (or forget) how you feel about them or the positive impact they’ve had on your life. Maybe your words are just what they need to hear. In any event, receiving love and care feels amazing! If they ask you for a reason, you can say, “Just because,” and leave it at that. Or tell them your philosophy if that’s comfortable. Maybe you’ll inspire them to spread the love.

There’s no time like the present, or rather, there’s no time other than the present.  The moment is really all we have. So I urge you to tell someone today how much he or she means to you–by phone, text, email, or (better yet) in person. Let’s have no regrets or wasted opportunities. Be the one who brightens someone’s day. In the process, you’ll end up enriching your own as well.

Eating the Write Foods {Guest Post with Cari Kamm}

I met Cari Kamm at a wellness event in Soho about 3 years ago. Intuition told me I had to get to know this lovely lady…and I was right! Not only has she become a friend, but she’s also become a writing buddy and mentor to me as I embark upon my first novel. Cari knows a thing or two about those–she just published her second novel, For Internal Use Only, which made the list on my A Few of My Favorite Things post in February. Her writing is witty, entertaining, and just plain gorgeous, and her stories have meaning you can chew on. I highly recommend you get to know this future best-seller!

Now on to the guest post…

I finally got the message years ago that what I eat affects how my mind and body performs. Whether we realize it or not, the quality of food we take in permeates all aspects of our life. It either gives us the energy, attitude, and fortitude to help us get through the day…or it doesn’t. Cari’s post is a fantastic example of just how extreme a difference eating the right food makes.

Eating the Write Foods

by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm

Tiffany & Co., New York City – 2011. Photo provided by Cari Kamm.

When I’m not writing . . . I’m eating. Well, I’m thinking of eating or where I want to be eating.

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and seriously enjoy every bite. My rule is “don’t pick before pics.”  I love to look at food. Take pictures of food. Dissect food. And of course eat food. A chef is an artist and unlike admiring a painting or absorbing words, you get to literally bite into their work and digest it.

So . . . how does this affect my creativity? The saying is you are what you eat. I find the same goes for my writing. My eating habits are different when it comes to the writing stage and editing process.

I begin writing first thing in the morning. Before anything can shift my mood or motivation, I make coffee and boost my body with breakfast before I hit the keys. Writing is my morning stretch. I write from home or head out to one of my spots in New York City. Sometimes, I just walk into random restaurants, bookstores, or coffee shops. I find inspiration in the unexpected. Not having a plan is sometimes the perfect plan for creativity. For eating…that’s not so productive.

My breakfast always includes a fresh pressed juice, scrambled eggs and oatmeal or wheat toast. My favorite morning juice includes apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass & mint or carrot, beet, apple, pear, lemon & ginger. Also, eggs contain Choline and that helps my memory and builds strong mental muscles. The benefit of this is keeping my characters and scenes straight!

There are foods I eat to nourish my mind. However, when emotions come into play during the creative process, I try to remember that I need to write my feelings…not eat them. Depending on which stage I’m in during creating my manuscript, food definitely contributes positively or negatively to my writing health. Knowing this allows me to be a better writer.

The creative process. My favorite part of the writing process is creating the outline of the story I have in mind. Then several months down the road realizing where the characters actually took me while reading the story they created. My creativity tends to crave carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this can lead to a food coma. Sugar becomes a big saboteur and doesn’t help my writing or my waistline! At first, eating sweets tends to make me feel happier and comfortable when I beginning a new project. One thing I know is that with all of the unknowns in developing a new story…I get nervous. When I hit the emotional rollercoaster peak and quickly come crashing down off the sugar high, I tend not to feel proud about a scene or a character even if it’s terrific. My characters’ emotions somehow control my food cravings. Well…I like to blame it on them! A romantic scene may call for chocolate and wine; a stressful scene made lead to Twizzlers or Thai takeout. If all else fails, I drink more wine.

The editing phase. This stage requires concentration, patience, and attention to detail. Protein keeps me on point! My characters cannot afford any food mood swings. I tend to focus on protein, fruits and vegetables! My favorite foods that are rich in antioxidants, folic acid and omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, blueberries, goji berries, cantaloupe and kale. I’m addicted to the deliciously dark green leafy guy! My favorite recipe at the moment is from the New York City restaurant Lupa.

The only culprit left is Mr. Coffee. I’m striving to lower my cups per day and sip more green tea or calming teas, especially during those late nights of writing or revising my manuscripts.

So…what’s the bottom line?  When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I write better!

CariKammCari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, CariKamm.com. To check out the book trailer, click here: http://tinyurl.com/bdr7bfn.

A Few of My Favorite Things

heart in sandIn honor of the spirit of love, here are a few of the products, services, and sites that are keeping me happy and healthy:

Green Beauty Team

This site is my go-to stop for getting the scoop on the latest, best, eco-friendly, and body-loving beauty products. Kristen Arnett, founder of Green Beauty Team, is a professional makeup artist responsible for many of the glam faces on major fashion runways around the world. She proves, day after day, that makeup and skin care need not be chemical laden to work beautifully. Her team of experts give us the lowdown on beauty, skin, and health. Especially helpful is her Toxic Ingredients Glossary…chances are you’ll find many of them lurking in your products.

For Internal Use Only

For Internal Use Only is the second novel from NYC author and cupcake lover, Cari Kamm. She writes entertaining, inspiring, witty, and addictive stories, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! I had the honor of getting a sneak read in before its Valentine’s Day début. Read my review on Amazon here…and show yourself some love by getting your own copy!

Lavanila

I rarely use conventional perfume because of the harsh chemicals/toxins and how my allergies can be set off with one strong whiff. But that doesn’t mean I can’t smell delicious! Lavanila Laboratories offers all-natural yummy scents like Vanilla Blackberry, Vanilla Lavender, and Vanilla Coconut, which I’ve personally tried. There are other fragrances from which to choose, all in a variety of sizes.

Pick Your Plum

Such a great little site for unique, get-it-til-it’s-gone deals! After you sign up, Pick Your Plum will send you one offer each morning (Monday through Friday) for truly remarkable prices. From tins to twine, clutches to cupcake liners, skirts to striped straws…they’re all lovely and at a steal! Classy clutches for $7.95?! Crazy! Unlike other bargain sites, I like that you don’t have to spend any time browsing to see if there’s a deal you want…only one thing being offered, so if it’s not your thing…delete! The only catch is you can’t wait too long to buy…these deals are gone faster than you can pick a crate of plums.

Savvy Bohème

I received a deluxe sample of Savvy Bohème’s Summer in Spain Whipped Cocoa Butter in one of my Goodebox shipments (another favorite of mine!). I was in love the moment I opened the jar. The creamy concoction has the intoxicating aroma of orange chocolate and melts delightfully into your skin. While you can’t eat it, at least you’ll know this “dessert” is nothing but good for your skin and those who are special enough to touch it!

Suntegrity

Beauty Benefit cream (aka B.B. cream) is a big thing right now and for good reason: Who wouldn’t want a product that treats, hydrates, protects, primes, and covers the skin in ONE STEP? The only problem is that most of the B.B. creams out there are totally toxic. The solution is Suntegrity’s “5 in 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, available in Light and Medium shades. I adore the way this multitasking product feels and looks on my skin, and that all the awesome ingredients are giving my skin the love it deserves.

Show yourself and your special people some love…not just today but

EVERY DAY!

Valentine’s Day Nourishment

My idea of a romantic meal is one in which we aren’t disturbed.  For Valentine’s Day last year, that meant a simple but tantalizing feast at home that wasn’t interrupted by trips to the kitchen.  With no baking or cooking to coordinate and no pots and pans to clean, I was able to focus all my attention on what really mattered, connecting with my husband!

I wanted to share these pictures with you to spark your creativity and imagination.  While this is not the only way to make Valentine’s Day special, it’s a great way to spend time with your significant other without subjecting yourselves to crowded restaurants and jacked-up prices.  Keep the following message in mind not only on V-Day, but every day: 

Food will nourish us for hours.  Love will nourish us forever.

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Friends With Benefits…Why I Can’t Live Without My Morning Cup of Joe

I thought this might be appropriate for the holiday season.  A time when we add to our already hectic schedules the responsibilities of Bargain-Hunting Santa, Cheery Decorating Elf, Baker Extraordinaire, Generous Host(ess) and Entertainer, Tireless Traveler, and Party Planning Expert…all while the daylight hours are shrinking and the temperatures are dropping.  I have a feeling you get through these days with a little help from your friend and mine.

Image by Lea Csontos

….think of all the good coffee does for us.  It makes us productive, sociable, cheery citizens of the earth.

After the first few moments when my eyes adjust from their slumber, my thoughts drift to my morning cup of coffee.  It’s a valuable and loyal friend.  It gently welcomes me into the day, supports me with it’s delicious aroma, and hugs my taste buds with it’s full, warm embrace.  The first sip is always divine.  After a few more dips into the steamy liquid, I can feel the corners of my mouth lift slightly upwards, my eyes open to their full range, and my movements speed up a notch.  Ahhh, the magic of coffee.

Aside from the possible health issues with caffeine and drinking it in excess, think of all the good coffee does for us.  It makes us productive, sociable, cheery citizens of the earth.  Nothing wrong with that.  Of course, I would rather be one of those au natural people who doesn’t covet a hot, creamy cup of deliciousness to spark her day, and doesn’t need it to check off all her duties on her to-do lists.  I’ve tried time and time again to end my friendship with coffee, hoping I would be able to function without it.  The longest I lasted was two months, and only because I was drinking green tea.  I do admit I felt great for about a week or two (after two weeks of caffeine-withdrawal agony) but then it became harder to wake up, stay awake, and remain busy…and happy.  The question is:  Is it better to be a pleasant, prolific person who drinks a large french press pot of coffee a day, or a caffeine-free martyr who is crabby, confused, and unmotivated?  Hmmm, I’ll take what’s behind door #1 please.

While medical and scientific experts zip back and forth on the debate of whether coffee is our friend or foe, I’ll stick with what’s best for me in the time being…starting each day with my old reliable friend, Mr. Coffee.