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The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Raining cats and dogs just doesn’t work when referencing bbq. In the great Meat Off of 2013 I have come to learn more about myself as a foodie:

1. I love vegetables. I eat salad for two days before our bbq dinners.
2. I am a food snob. Manufactured or mass produced bbq is not real bbq. It is suppose to take time.
3. Any articles or headlines referring to the ‘best of’ or ‘top 10′ or ‘must see’ go to my trash. I can not attend or acknowledge any other lists while completing this one.

Week 2: Dinosaur BBQ
Address: 400 West 125th Street, Harlem
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy tone very local train up
First impression: Crowded, I’m soaking wet and where’s the bar
Consumed: spare ribs, brisket, baked beans, pulled pork, colesslaw, mac n’ cheese, friend green tomatoes, bbq chicken, pickles, salt potatoes, corn bread, flavored beer
Highlights: Extremely attentive waitress, the garbage bucket on the table and ribs
Guests: Catherine (longtime friend of Maureen) and Nik (new friend of Catherine’s)

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This is Harlem in the rain, what you can’t see is the sideways rain and the rivers at every corner. Normally, this would not phase me, but I waled the wrong way and had to double my tracks. In the rain. Pouring rain.

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The Dinosaur has a lot of beer options, a lot. We tried Sea Salt Ale by the Fire Island Beer Company, Ithaca Apricot Wheat and Long Train Blackberry Wheat. Further proof that I’m a salt girl.

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Cheers! It’s the day before the 4th of July and we don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

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Hello drink menu and bbq sauce.

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We started with friend green tomatoes and smoked shrimp remoulade.

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Maureen and I shared two pbig plates, this one features the pulled pork sandwhich, salt potatoes and baked beans.

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This plate was the sampler and had roasted bbq chicken, ribs and brisket with side of mac n’ cheese and coleslaw. Again, Maureen doesn’t understand the point of cornbread.

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We were excited to be at week 2 of the Great Meat Off of 2013 and together. And dry.

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Hello Catherine and Nik!

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Catherine ordered a half bbq chicken, mac n’ cheese and the sweat potato mash. She was a happy girl.

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Nik also ordered the pull pork sandwich with coleslaw right on top, french fries and potato salad.

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Best bite. Corn bread and brisket dipped in bbq sauce.

Chow Dinosaur, ‘Cuse will definitely be the next time!

Recently Gothamist posted this article, declaring the top of the top BBQ places in the city. I have to admit that this category of food is not something I would normally be attracted to. Since leaving the Hudson Valley and reunited with the ‘burbs and “the” city the only BBQ I have craved is Max’s wing night.

So with my carnivorous friends came the idea of trying everything on the list. I promise, it’s only week one and I know I will be pushing for a top 10 of veg places next.

Week 1: Fette Sau
Address: 354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy two train commute and then a brief walk to the restaurant.
First impression: Smelled delish, calm before the storm and beer is mason jars
Consumed: short ribs, spare ribs, brisket, rolls, potato salad, baked beans, corn bread, root beer and ale
Highlights: cornbread with brisket baked beans declared favorite bite, rub on the spare ribs, brisket sandwich with extra bbq sauce

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Our friends at Fette Sau are very smart and have a rustic / fun decor. And a cool bar, that counts, too. The beer taps have meat hacking charm. One of those is the Sixpoint called Vienna Ale that was brewed just for Fette Sau, that also makes them very smart.

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This was the tray I ordered for Maureen and I. Don’t judge. I did it for you.

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I think she was happy. It was hard to tell.

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This is a close up of the rub, some goodness was up in there.

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More cool decor and educational! We were able to see and learn what cuts of meat we were eating.

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This was my favorite bite of the entire meal. The baked beans were off the hook. Spicy, slow cooked and chunks of brisket thrown in for good measure. Pictured here on a piece of cornbread.

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Picnic tables inside and out gave for good community and noise.

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This is when we should have stopped, instead we ordered one more beef rib to push us over the edge. It was by the pound.

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This is the bone after we were done with it. In case you can’t tell, as big as my head.

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If you are a condiment girl like myself, you would like the bbq sauce, vinegar sauce and hot sauce. I love sauce.

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Good bye Fette Sau, see you next time!

I moved back to the ‘burbs eleven months ago.

Where did that eleven month chunk of time go exactly?

I must have missed it in-between job searching, resume writing, teaching, freelance projects, American Museum of Natural History, dating, EatDrinkJobs, giving up dairy, finding my friends, throwing people weddings, being Aunt Thea, painting walls, breaking down others, giving gratitude, a craptastic break up, re-writing resumes, cover letters, testing boundaries, wiping tears, interviews, networking, e-mails, Stupid Cancer, throwing things out, planning events and writing thank you notes.

And for my thirty-first birthday my mother gave me a banner that says, “You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha

Love and affection is on the menu for the next eleven months.

thank·ful (thngkfl)

adj.

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.

2. Expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile.


thankful·ly adv.

thankful·ness n.

In the last year I have changed my job, my home, my friends, my commute, my perspective, my mind, my hair and my goals. Goals became incredibly short-term, not my usual planning ahead. My hair is officially growing out all of the color and the longest it has ever been. My mind really is a muscle and it seems the more you dump into it, the harder it is to be clear (work in progress). My perspective is an evolving script at the moment, not really sure the theme just yet. My commute went back to car / train / subway / feet as it was many years ago. My friends, just as I expected are epically amazing, they are my family I was responsible for creating. My home is one I lived in many many many lives ago and although not ideal at times, it’s an incredible gift to be warm and safe and loved unconditionally. My job was once a stationary activity in the country and now is an ever-changing combination of consulting. I seem to thrive on some level of “too much.”

With all of this change, I cannot help to think of how AMAZING it is to be able to do all of things I have done. I stood up for myself, I survived heartbreak, I committed to the non-profit world, and I created nourishment for the soul and the stomach. Looking back, despite the curveballs, it’s all good.

I am ridiculously full of thanks.

I am thankful for my family, anyone that has come in contact with them falls in love, too.

I am thankful for the ability and gift to do my job, and what lately are three jobs all at once.

I am thankful for the lack of tears lately, with such a year of change, I was gunning for a Kleenex commercial.

I am thankful for being reminded that I deserve the best.

I am thankful for “THE feeling,” I do believe universe, I do believe.

I am thankful for teaching, mentoring and learning.

I am thankful for Stupid Cancer, the organization that has redefined my commitment to the young adult cancer movement. My own healing has continued from during the path and we are making other journeys less lonely, painful and intense. A true gift, increasing the success of a cancer patient.

I am thankful for our home being intact after Hurricane Sandy and for all of the people who are (and have been) helping those impacted by the intensity of Mother Nature.

I am thankful for safety.

I am thankful for life.

I am thankful for all of you that are reading this. I have taken for granted that there is people on the other side of this page. I am rededicated to this place.

From my family, to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

After a weekend in the “country” I am headed back to my “other” life. When I first moved upstate there were so many emotions and uncertainties. And here I am living somewhere else and still have just as many uncertainties. I’m a better person for taking the risk, but the real question has become, now what? There are a few things I know for sure:

1. Moving to the country was one of the boldest things I had ever done and there are many people who would have never taken the leap. I am proud of myself for doing it in the first place.

2. The decision to leave the country and pursue career opportunities elsewhere was one of the hardest things I have ever done. And there are many people who would have just stayed. I am proud that I have the will to make decisions and carry them through with conviction.

3. The relationships I have are gifts from heaven. Although I have yet to meet the “one” I have strong and supportive roots in many places and spaces. These people are loving, supportive, kind and cheer me on in all that I do. I walk into a room and people actually cheer. It’s an insane and amazing reaction to get from your peers. Apparently, as I was told this weekend, “I see why everyone is so obsessed with you.” Humbled. And thankful.

4. People are not going to change. My Dad’s theory reins true, we are pretty much fully developed by seven years old, the rest of it is further development of our basic personality. We can expect or demand change from someone else. We can only do our own changing and growing. Including the way we react to behaviors we don’t care for. It’s our work we have to do.

“Ahh, Home
Yes, I am Home
Home is when I’m alone with you.”
~ Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

I have lived on Long Island (again) for 20 weeks. But, hey, who’s counting.

Commuting is intense. My skin is revolting, new patterns of bumps and redness are having a party. On. My. Face. I’m 30 and live with my parents. I am in the same room (although freshly painted) that I lived in when I was in the 9th grade. There are no perfect commuting shoes. The city is dirty. And smells. Sorry, just telling the truth.

For the first time, in a long time, I don’t have a specific goal. For as long as I can remember, there was Thea and her goal. And then I would make it happen with dedication, energy and pure will. So it’s time to get going on a new set of goals. Pronto.

On the plus side… There has been a great project with EatDrinkJobs keeping me busy. An amazing organization – StupidCancer – that has helped redefine my “cancer survivor” card. I’m even guest co-hosting the Stupid Cancer Radio Show tomorrow night! Finding a local sushi joint, Yuzu. My sister’s childhood best friend has become my train, gym, food shopping buddy. More importantly a built-in friend. Thank goodness for small miracles.

No one said adjusting to Long Island (again) was going to be easy. No one said it was going to be this hard either, but at least the waterworks don’t run every night.

“Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
heart and soul” 
~ George Harrison

I moved out of the house in the country 77 days ago. Since then, it has felt like pulling off a Band-Aid connected to every piece of hair and skin under it.

Some would say that a slow process allows you to feel all of the emotions (sadness, confusion, anger, resentment, etc.) and others (all of the people who know me) know this has been incredibly hard for me. First, I emptied my room of all of my ‘things’ I needed to bring to Long Island. Then, I started to pack boxes of other less needed things. Then, there was the full day of packing and organizing the kitchen. And most recently, a three-day sorting, packing and selling everything else.

I am tired.

Two things made the three-day binge bearable. My amazing, ridiculous, fabulous, lovely and funny friends – especially two AHmazing ladies who loved me, fed me, sorted, priced, moved, schlepped and cleaned up the moving sale. And my roommate. In the midst of packing and sorting we did all of our normal roommate-like stuff. A tuna stack, sushi and a shared slice of pizza all in one night, just because we are grownups and we could. A trip to Walmart that allowed wandering around aimlessly. A trip to the bagel store, where we complained about the service and wished for our own place with bagels and good service and ice coffee under one roof. Sorting boxes side-by-side because company is always better when you are doing something you don’t want to. And a final Sunday night dinner with our closest friends. The very friends that had spent a lot of the last two years in that house, too. Fourth of July BBQs, birthday parties, dinners, breakfasts the next morning, laughing, dance parties, Passover for thirty-two seats, cooking, Halloween, cider and eggnog, football, cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches, hook-ups, break-ups, drinks on the patio, star-gazing in the middle of the night, fireworks and a masquerade ball all happened in that house with those very very special people.

I know the next trip up to the house in the country is the day I put all of my furniture and kitchen into storage. I don’t want to. I understand that I have to and it’s the next step for me in my mind, but the heart is speaking an entirely different language.

I never knew the most colorful walls I had ever seen in my whole entire life and “I found this house online that I want to look at, but I don’t have anyone to go see it with me,” would change everything and everyone.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou

It’s a Hudson Valley treat making a guest appearance on a Long Island dinner table.

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So far in 2012…

I turned 30.

Winter was lame in the Hudson Valley, no snow, no sleet, no ice. Weirdness.

I influenced the lives of Hofstra undergrads for eight week in a Public Relations Copywriting course. Like whoa.

I taught social media workshops for the continuing ed program at Ulster Community College.

Spoke to inspiring NYU alumni / women / friends who are changing the world. One day at a time. Keep going ladies.

Saw amazing world change start.

Welcomed spring. Thank the good lord.

And continued my journey on being good to the people around me. Through their stomachs.

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