Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years "Revolution" by Alisa

 This time of year has always made me think about the kind of person I want to become. Someday. Who doesn’t want to be a better person? More knowledgeable, healthier, wealthier, reliable, accountable, and dependable. I’d like to be all of those things and more. And I’d like to be that way yesterday. I’m not a lazy or unmotivated person, so why am I not all of those things already? I’ve been giving that a lot of thought these last few weeks. 

Carl Jung wrote, "Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." Basically what this means is that we all have our dark sides; the characteristics of our personality to which we are usually blind. The more we suppress and deny our shadow, the more it can actually rule us. (Think Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, without the potion.) These shadows of ours are impulsive, irrational, and quick to judge others. The interesting thing is that the shadow will take our own personal insecurities and inferiorities and project them as shortcomings in other people or in society. It’s an odd soothing technique of the ego: I’m fine. It’s you who has a problem. (I never do that, by the way. But you always do.) In short, the shadow is our destructive side.

Instead of really inspecting myself for why I haven’t gotten as far in life as I have hoped, I’ve cast a lot of blame through the years. If only my childhood had been different, I would have more confidence and self-esteem. If only the Ex hadn’t turned out to be so lousy, I wouldn’t have wasted ten whole years of my life just spinning my wheels. Give me enough time and paper, and I could give you a long list of reasons why I am who I am. “Others have excuses. I have my reasons why.” The trouble with all those comforting reasons is that none of them actually give me comfort, they just anesthetize me and keep me from moving in any meaningful direction. Well, enough of that.

Let me say upfront that this is not a resolution. Maybe making pacts with one’s self works for others, but, well…. I stink at them. If I can’t keep a promise to myself in May or August, I seriously doubt making a promise in January is going to make any difference.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Hmmm… that’s a tall order Mahatma. When would I ever sleep?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?" Hmmm… I’m just a product of my experiences, Marianne, and the brilliant and fabulous ones are outnumbered by the less-than-fabulous experiences. However, I’m in the mood to chase a rainbow. Maybe even do a little shadow boxing if that’s what it takes. 

I grabbed a few favorite ‘feel good’ books and began reading with new eyes, paring down the mountain of advice into a hill of suggestions.

Step 1: Identify the most common projections that I place on others or on society. For me, the two most common are ‘injustice’ (the thought that bad things which happen are unfair and somehow my fault) and ‘defensiveness’ (shutting down on others who seem to be attacking me somehow and looking for the chinks in my armor which would expose my weaknesses).

Other shadow projections may include, but are not limited to: arrogance, blame, idealizing of others, jealousy, superiority, paranoia, and prejudice. *

Step 2: Figure out how the projected feelings relate to situations from our past. Usually they are rooted in childhood – the time when we are most impressionable. This is a slam dunk for me. The past was nothing but a petri dish for growing these projections. This could be scary, but I’ve been to this garden patch before, and have tended to these memories on many an occasion. The trick now is to find these overgrown, thorny patches and prune them back into a manageable shape. Don’t waste time trying to rip them out by the roots; they run too deep and are too large a part of the psyche. Attempting to remove or deny them would be an attempt to deny one’s own self. Not recommended, Dr. Jekyll.

Step 3: Making peace with the past. I want that more than anything. It would be just dandy to look back at the past and feel numb to it, but that’s not very practical. I know all too well that those memories aren’t going anywhere. Better to accept that all I have, all any of us has, is RIGHT NOW. If my life (or more accurately, my attitude about my life) is going to improve, I have to let go of yesterday and stop deluding myself with the notion that I have an endless amount of tomorrows.  I can choose to dwell on the ghosts of hurt, fear, and anger, or I can choose to have peace. Yes, the choice really is that simple. No, I have not been drinking the Kool-Aid. I can “Yeah, but…” til the cows come home, but not a single one of those has ever made me feel any better.

We remember the things that hurt us because that is the way of the mind. We remember so that we can avoid the cause should we be faced with it again. It is a survival mechanism, and the urge for self-preservation is an innate and powerful force. But remembering is not the same as reliving,  just as forgiving is not the same as forgetting. There is no benefit to recycling the same old emotions. That’s the one prospect about a new beginning that I can get behind: out with the old and in with the new. (Unless, of course, the new stuff sucks, too, in which case I would be S.O.L.)

These three steps are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more work to be done after this, but at least I’m in a position to begin on the other stuff. After a year of letting go of a lifetime’s worth of hurt and anger and worthlessness, I feel surprisingly at peace. I had expected to feel a lot more guilt for having dropped so much baggage because dropping the baggage also required that I let go of the people who helped create it.

Phase Two of this personal overhaul may prove to be a bit trickier than this first phase. A friend of mine, for whom I have a great deal of respect, recently told me, “Love is everywhere you look. It’s all around you. You just have to learn how to recognize it.” It felt like I was standing in the middle of the Sahara, on the brink of certain desiccation, and was being told, “Water is everywhere you look. You just have to recognize it.” Really, my friend? Because all I’ve been able to see for miles are endless drifts of sand.

I’m not trying to be brash. In fact, being brash all these years is what has led to this forlorn way station in the desert. But I am and always have been a black sheep; a broken branch. And old habits die hard – even habits that have long since outlived their purpose. This is me swearing an oath to make every attempt to follow the sage advice; to learn how to recognize what I need and to actively look for it. It’s not a resolution, it is a revolution.

What comes next? Putting down my expectations for tomorrow, and getting to work on today. If I can move away from the things which have paralyzed me for so long, then I can begin putting one foot in front of the other. There’s surely lots more to do, but I'll be creating the path as I go along because I’ve never been one for outlines, graphs, charts and all that mind-numbing organization. That stuff makes me wanna take a hot bath with a warm razor, which would probably defeat the whole purpose.

*I’m not making this stuff up. Head on over to your local library or check out Amazon books, and look for the works of Carl Jung. If you want to better understand what he meant, and hear it presented in ways that are applicable to daily life, look for books about ‘the shadow’ by other authors, such as:

~The Shadow Effect – Deepak Chopra~
~21 Day Consciousness Cleanse: A Breakthrough Program for Connecting with Your Soul's Deepest Purpose – Debbie Ford~
~Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy – Debbie Ford~
~The Gift of Change – Marianne Williamson~
~Spiritual Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power – Gary Zukav~

Kim responded:
I couldn't have said it better myself Alisa. I hope people are able to slow down long enough to really read this blog entry and take it in because it's rich with excellent advice and good points. Make peace with the past. It takes TIME. Personally, I have been into psychology my whole life. I was just too impatient to pursue a degree in it. I fizzled out after a few semesters because i couldn't sit still long enough to study. I find I analyze the human psyche all the time and try to be aware of how I am acting in response to my surroundings. 
(I TRY, not always successful)

A couple of points I want to make since you are on the topic of the past AJ. None of us can deny, our past is part of us. Our roots are who we are. Be it ugly, abusive, pretty and perfect and everything in between. We cannot control that. After we grow up and become adults, our reality is more in our control to try to overcome the negative. BUT i think anyone who assumes they will never have ghosts of the past is kidding themselves. It is not reality. I think it is ok to take the good with the bad and eventually accept it. It makes us who we are. None of us is perfect. Give yourself a break and accept that already.

These days so many of us are "broken branches". Family no longer has to be blood relatives. If you come from a close family, you are blessed (will you adopt me?) but some of us do not have close families. Friends become family and we work with what we are given.

I also think that TIME and maturity plays a big role in becoming a better version of ourselves. I am better now in my 30's than i was in my 20's and better than my teens. In my later years I hope to become an even better version of myself to. (that remains to be seen!) I do recognize the ego and how our past plays a role in how we act in the present. Some people do not recognize it. Some do. Looking back, some of the things I did in my 20's makes me shudder. I know I put my daddy through some cringe worthy moments and for that I am sorry. I am a work in progress. I am sure my own little girl will give me a run for my money as she grows up. I will have to allow for her to go through her own up's and down's and mistakes. It'll be a bitter pill for me to swallow.

As for the books you mentioned AJ, I have a few on my bookshelves as we speak. For the naysayers who don't like the idea of self-help or personal empowerment- i feel bad for them. We can all use some polishing. Wake up. There's so much we can learn and do on our own to be better people in the long run.

I try to keep both feet firmly planted in reality. "Love is all around us" your friend said AJ? This is true. But with the good, there is the bad. Light and Dark, Ying and Yang. I try to be positive, but there is also the darker side that is there looming in all of our worlds. Just do not dwell on that side. It's not a nice place to be.

Sometimes I think we expect perfection with our expectations. I see people get caught up in who drives the best car, has the nicest house, the most money, etc. Personal possessions being of the utmost importance over inner happiness. Don't get me wrong, I love all of those things to. There just has to be a balance between the two. I can spot a materialistic fake person a mile away like a heat seeking missile. Try a serious health scare like cancer or heart disease-that'll snap you back to reality real quick.

It is hard not to project when we carry a "shadow" but I try to be really aware of why i do what i do. I don't trust most females for example. I realize it stems from my first failed relationship with my own mother and so on and so forth. Am i healed from it? Only to a degree. I think it will always be there. I may never really trust most women, but I'm self aware enough to recognize it. Sure it occasionally bothers me still, seeing women who have good relationships with their mothers. But by now I need to wake up and know that is not MY reality and move on. It is a painstakingly slow process, but every year gets easier.

I blame my ex husband for making a decision that changed the course of all of our lives forever. Then again, i play a role in it all as well for making wrong and impulsive choices that lead me to that situation in the first place. In any relationship, if there's strife- it's easy to point the finger at the other person, and your points may be very valid- but what role did you play in the whole situation? Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

In 2011 treat people in a way that they feel BETTER about themselves than before they met you. Leave them with a good feeling instead of anger. I promise you, it will make a big difference in your life. I know so many people who are caught up in drama and hate. It is toxic. Steer clear. I have been sucked into it to. People irritate me. It's life. But indulge in as little of it as possible.

Here's to an amazing 2011. It's not a resolution, it's a REVOLUTION.
all my love, kim

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Years Resolutions? Don’t be Ridiculous

blog by: kim

People start out with good intentions, but loose steam by  early February. That’s why resolutions are sort of ridiculous in my opinion. I do think it’s great to have “goals” for the new year. That just sounds better. Less room for failure.

Has another year gone by? Yes, I suppose it has. I can’t say 2010 was a fantastic year with the economy in the crapper, but it wasn’t the worst either. For 2011 I wish for the housing market to get better, the economy to pick up and more people to find jobs so they can pay their bills. I want to volunteer in 2011 at a local animal shelter. I think I’m  now in a stage where it’s important to feel like you make a small difference while you’re here on this earth. Whatever your favorite cause is. My top three are Animal Abuse...

Susan G. Komen Fight for a Cancer Cure (an insidious disease)...

 and Gay Rights. I am hoping more people come to realize that being gay is not a choice, nor is it “evil”. They deserve the same civil rights as the rest of us. Equality. We don’t live in the 1950’s anymore. We are more educated and aware than we used to be in the generations before us. Think Outside The Box. Live and let live. It's nobody's business what people do with their lives and who are we to judge? And practice religious tolerance. If it harms none, do as you will. Stepping off my soap box...

In 2011, I’d like to see my best friends who live out of state. Sometimes the years go by too quickly. Sophie is having her first baby, I can't believe it!  Sherry’s son  graduated high school a couple of summers ago and Nicole moved to Alaska. Some are changing jobs, moving, marrying, divorcing and everything in between. Life has crazy stages, ebbs and flows I wish all of you happiness. 

I wish for my husband to have continued good health and a thriving business. My Emily, I love you always and want the best for you, my mini-me, my love, my sometimes pain in the butt little girl. You have taught me how little patience I actually have & also how much love.

2011 will bring new music from some great bands. Maybe another Tears tour? I have met some amazing people along the way over the years on those tours. Different cities and people who’s talent I am in utter awe of. Music is my weakness. It’s the sound track of our lives. Don't ever stop.

These are the top 10 resolutions most people seem to  come up with over and over. I guess they are important for a reason:

1.     Spend less time working/more with family and friends. This is true especially as you grow up and realize who really loves you and who was just passing through your life .

2.    Lose weight. I’m ok on this one, but many people are not and even I have to watch what I eat to remain healthy and slim. Nobody’s immune to the curse of the calories! Go easier on yourselves though, especially to the women. Your more beautiful than you think and we put way too much emphasis on the scale. We aren’t one size fits all. How boring that would be?

3.    Volunteer. My favorite idea for 2011. Pick your favorite cause. Too busy? Even an hour or two a month helps.

4.   Quit smoking- if your still smoking in 2011 you seriously need to rethink your life. It’s a death sentence and it ages you. Start enjoying the rest of your smoke-free life! There are a variety of free support services, hotlines, smoking classes and pills to help you kick the habit. Because the alternative is far worse.

5.    Quit drinking too much.  Moderation is cool, but some people can go way overboard. 

6.    Work out more. I don’t kid myself, my main form of exercise is a daily brisk walk unless it’s too cold out. I cannot pretend to be a gym rat. If you are, then more power to you, your stronger than me.

7.    Pay off debt. A hard one when the country is struggling and looking for jobs. I’ll let you slide on this one right now. Your welcome.

8.    Learn something new. Take a class for fun. Cooking class, cake decorating, karate, singing, boxing, whatever suits your fancy. Or go back to school and get your degree. It’s never too late.

9.    Thou shalt not text and drive. Oh boy this is a hard one, but I shall throw my blackberry in the back seat! I promise. *&^%$#

10. Clean and get organized. With  children and busy lives it’s easier said than done. Cleanliness is always a great idea. But there’s also more important things in life than a dish in the sink or stray sock on the floor- like enjoying life. Pick your battles.

To the people I love (you know who you are) here’s to a great 2011. Thank you for being so amazing. Sometimes “family” isn’t always in the traditional sense. I am a shining example of that. And to my friends, male and female who are single…may you find happiness whatever 2011 brings. It is far better to be alone than in a bad relationship. Because we are all works in progress aren’t we?

love & peace,


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Artisanal Blend Cheese Fondue for the chilly winter months

Artisanal Blend Cheese Fondue

Pefect for the cold winter months, serve to a group with a great wine. Yummy, decadent melt-in-your-mouth gooey cheeses. Ask at your local deli for these cheeses or if your lucky to have a cheese shop near you, look for these or a similar variation.

sea salt
1 clove garlic, end cut off
3 cups Comte, Emmenthaler and Vacherin cheese (for 12 oz total) if you can’t find one of the cheeses, use Gruyere
~cheese at room temp

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine, like a Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pinch nutmeg
black pepper in a mill

Put 1 tsp salt in a fondue pot or if you don’t have one, in a heavy bottomed stainless steel 2 quart sauce pan. Fondue pots can be found virtually anywhere now. Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, you name it…

Next, rub the exposed end of the garlic on the  bottom of the pot, along with the salt. Coat entire surface. Discard garlic.

In a medium bowl, mix your 3 chesses and cornstarch so it is all well blended. Good? Ok, set aside.

Sip some wine for good measure. Remember to share.  Next, add the wine and lemon juice to your fondue pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Once it’s boiling, slowly add the cheese and cornstarch, mixing constantly. Make sure it’s melted before you add more.

Ok, now once all the cheese has been added, cook over medium heat for one minute. Season with nutmeg, sea salt and 4 grinds of pepper or to taste. Remove from heat and serve with warm, crusty cubed bread, boiled fingerling potatoes, sautéed beef tips if you like beef, grapes, apple wedges or raw vegetables

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

20 under 20. Frugal finds

20 Under 20 frugal finds for the Holidays!

Blog by: kim

If you’re like everyone else in this economy, you budget what you spend. Brought back from last year, it’s my 20 under 20 list with all new items and ideas. I tried to throw in  a couple ideas for men, women and kids, even one for pets. Many of these also work well as a hostess gift for the holiday parties you get roped into. Hopefully this will save you some time and money. Most of these items can be ordered online. It’s nice not to fight crowds in stores or try to find a parking spot. Some gifts can even be shipped for free or gift wrapped at no extra charge, it just depends who your buying from.

1) Dry chili or soup mix, in a generous mug or soup crock with a wooden spoon.  Artisan foods intrigue me to no end.  Perfect for the colder weather! Buy some soup mix and hunt for a nice big mug, better yet, order a handmade mug off Etsy. Do a search on handmade mugs and see what comes up:

Marshalls is also a great place for these artisan food gifts at a great price.

2)  A bottle  of wine with an attractive  wine bottle stopper. Ask at your local wine shop for a decent bottle of wine in the $15 dollar range and give it as a gift with either a bottle stopper or 2 wine glasses. red or white.

3) A nice, warm scarf and gloves set...sure it's old school, but when it's cold we NEED this sort of thing! Just choose nice looking ones, not the kind Aunt Mable used to give you as a kid.

4) I found this really cool Brownie S’mores Kit or Beer Bread Kit on Etsy, the seller is Cedar Tree Farm Soap Etc. Search “brownie smores kit” without the apostrophe . Or look at her beer bread in a bag kit! Here’s her description:  “This is a really fun gift to give to co-workers, friends, or your favorite cook or beer drinker. The kit includes bread mix to make one large loaf, wooden spoon, & oven hot pad. The directions are on the front of the bag which includes a rustic snowflake ornament tied to the handle. All you need to add is one 12 ounce can or bottle of beer. That's it!”

Beer Bread Kit

Brownie Smores Kit

5)  Contemporary Saki Set off Red and black. Very cool if I do say so myself. Yes, under $20

6) Disposable  camera. Ask the recipient to take holiday photos of themselves, friends and family and  share them with you. A nice way to keep in touch. Wrap it in tissue paper and put it in a gift bag.  Sure, a fancy digital camera is better, but this is the 20 under 20 list, remember?

7) An attractive bottle of  olive oil w/loaf of crusty French bread. 

8) Feng shui candle set. These look great and they are under 20 at Target

9) My vintage jewelry. I have to have  my website in here, most items are around the $20 mark. From vintage, hand crafted jewelry to handbags to pottery and pieces that are eco friendly. Here is my vintage Breakfast at Tiffany’s bracelet set and the Pretty in  Pink pearl necklace and earring set. Available on Etsy.

10) Pumpkin Spice pancake and waffle mix by Dancing Deer Baking Co. Google the name. All you need is a nice bottle of maple syrup and a wooden spoon, tie it all together and place it in a basket or gift bag. Viola.

11) Itunes gift card. For the music lover (aren’t we all?) let them choose their own music from itunes. Perfect! Teens and adults would love it. Choose the dollar amount you want. Rock on. These gift cards sell at major grocery store chains and many retail outlets.

12) Dog or cat gift set. Google Pampered Paws gifts, Three Dog Bakery or even Target. All different prices ranges, some start below 20.  WOOF

13) Godiva ~ Milk Chocolate Gift Box (15 pc.)
Godiva 15 pc. Milk Chocolate Gift Box. Perfect for anyone who loves milk chocolate. This one includes Cinnamon Blush, Coffee Feather, Almond, Praliné Raindrop, Pecan Caramel Duet . Yes please…sells for less than 20 at department stores or

14) Graphic tote bag by American Eagle. Teen in mind and budget friendly to boot.

15) Waffle bath towel set by Couldn’t believe it was under 20

16) Soaps. Sets of them. Smells good, we all use them and why not? Throw in some nice bath salts and a fragrant lotion and they’ll love you forever.

17) Starbucks gift set, for the coffee lover OR tea drinker OR hot chocolate drinker. My favorite. Pour me a warm mug and tell me a story. You have my full attention.

18) Cookbook. Think Rachael Ray or Barefoot Contessa. Also, Katie Lee Joel has beautiful pictures in her cookbooks. Yes, if you look on you can find a nice little cookbook for a steal. Bookstores are going to be a little more expensive. At least that’s what I have found. For the closet cook we all know! Then force them to make you something good to eat. It’s a win-win.  Or try

19) “Stirrings” Margarita kit . Tis the season for elegant entertaining. Surprise  someone with an all inclusive Margarita Vacation. This set includes one bottle of our all natural Margarita Mixer and original Margarita Rimmer. I know they sell these at the Stirrings website and at Target.

20) Cloth covered journal – this one found on Yes, Etsy. Trust me. Do a search on “cloth covered journal” and target the $15-$20 range ones. Or a local bookstore chain will carry them, just look for the best priced ones, they overprice these things like crazy.

I had to add a number 21. It was too good to pass up, even though it is over $20, this is so cute, it makes me want to me a kid again. For the little kids...

21) Books-to-Bed - kid’s pajama and matching book set. Between $40-$45 Look on amazom (again with the amazon kim?)  Or a bookstore.  Literature -themed pajamas are the perfect Christmas gift for budding lit-fiends. Now, all I need is a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy negligee and I'll be set.

Have a good gift idea in the $20 range? Let me know.

Happy Shopping & Happy Holidays.

Love, kim