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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.”

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.

Théa and Noel have been kookin’.

As a stellar foodie duo, we create healthful Sunday Night Dinners, holiday celebrations and food on-the-fly for our  friends in the Hudson Valley. City Mouse – Thea – brings presentation, creativity and tradition and Country Mouse – Noel – brings style, expertise and vitality to the table every time. It is important that we utilize our resources responsibly to sustain local merchants, farmers and artisinal crafters.

Théa – The City Mouse

Day job: Online brand manager for an international handbag company
For fun: cooking, entertaining, writing, travel
Favorite food: Pizza
Sign: Aquarius
Nicknames: Thay, Theloniuos, Thyza Louise, Thalya
Favorite dish to make: cake (cupcake, cheesecake, ice cream cake, chocolate beet cake, etc.)
Most prized kitchen tool: Kitchenaid Stand Mixer

Why am I a foodie?

When my grandfather, known by all as Pipop, passed away two years ago we taught my Nana a valuable lesson in today’s lingo. We discussed, “We’re out,” “whatup,” and even “redic.” I think one of the only things that stuck that week was, “foodie.” Defined by many as one who enjoys, makes, creates, appreciates, loves and does food.

At some point that week, after many homemade dinners, and even more deli platters and desserts, I said, “Nana, we’re foodies.” All in agreement, my entire immediate family nodded as it made perfect sense to us. I couldn’t tell you when that actually happened though. It could be the hundreds of family dinners, the dozens of holidays, countless BBQs, endless Sunday brunches or the meal that happens when there are a group of people at my parents house and there is a sudden combustion of plates, garlic and hungry mouths.

Being a child of a foodie is a big responsibility. You have to entertain like your parents do. You have to cook with your heart and not just your head. You have to do it just like them, but still in your own style. You have to know how much pasta is for 2, 4, or even 12 people. And perhaps, most importantly, you always have to be able to get back to where it all started. That table where the foodies once ate altogether.

Now that I live two hours away from my parents, I make sure to give notice and let the head-foodie-in-charge know when I will be back, for how long and if I will be there for dinner. That answer is always “yes” and “what do you want for dinner?”

What I think of my relationship with Noel!

Everything happens for a reason. Noel and I ended up at the same table in Uptown Kingston about a year ago. We shared lamb sliders, blood sausage and chocolate cristinis, huge roasted asparagus and sangria. We talked food. And not just what do you do for a living / for fun food. Real food conversations. About the earth, traditions and technique. Not being classically trained myself, I learned a lot about Noel’s culinary experience and trade. And most importantly her love for life. It matched mine.

Common ground found, friendship began and then we entered the kitchen together.  Game changer. Comfort meeting healthy, local meeting mass distribution, dessert meeting vegetables and most importantly, nutrients for the soul created provided and shared.

Noel is the brightness in a dull day, the reminder of the earth we are from and the laughter that makes me spit my wine out, give a ‘lil snort and hide behind my apron.

Noel – The Country Mouse

Day job: Personal chef, community activist and childcare provider
For fun: cook with friends, read, hang with kids, garden and enjoy music
Favorite food: All dark leafy greens
Sign: Sagittarius
Nicknames:  Noey, Curly Pumklin, Queen of Kale
Favorite dish(es) to make: Sauteed Greens, turkey burgers, gourmet pizza, tarts, veggie burgers, fish cakes, roasted veggies and roasted lemon chicken
Most prized kitchen tool: Personalized knife from Japan and onion goggles

Why am I a foodie?

I consider myself a foodie for a number of reasons all of which revolve around my love for people.  I like to work creatively in the kitchen  to share with others, what I call, “premium fuel” for the body.  A good quality life containing  healthful varieties of foods  able to sustain, nourish and enliven others is just so awesome.  Growing up with grandparents who grew and cooked most of their own food and  a father who was adamant about providing well balanced  meals has had an everlasting impact on how I utilize and value food.  I have surrounded myself with friends who are passionate and active about  the quality, health, sustainability and  education of our food system.  The Hudson Valley is booming with hand crafted sustainable farm to table connoisseurs and entrepreneurs, myself aiming to be an active participant.

What I think of my relationship with Théa!

Well…where to begin?  When I think of Théa I always think of good times with good people, food and music. There is never a dull moment with and life is always lived to the fullest, if she has anything to do with it.  I love this about Thea and I love how infectious it is on my life. Since we met,  I have found my life to be more full with friends who enthusiastically sharing their passions and goals.  This is important to me, because I am one who wanders through life exploring the endless possibilities to embrace. It seems there is always a door of opportunity awaiting around the corner  and having  encouragement and excitement from Théa is priceless . I would have to say that I think my relationship with her has been a gift so special that I shall never forget. And I endlessly thank her.

That was the photo caption.

And there in plain sight, above the caption was a picture of a nice looking group at a nice looking party at a nice looking midtown west dive bar.

But wait, who is that girl?!?

It was me. I was in the picture above the caption. Baffled, I thought, How did THAT happen?

It was my first third party reference in print to me not living in the city. In the milliseconds after reading IT I thought the caption was wrong . Then that I read it wrong. And then that the poster was just plain bat shit crazy. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and opened them again. I read it again. It didn’t change. I was being referenced as a member of another crew, one that did not live in the city but one that was from the country. In plain sight. For all to see.

Going back to moments before this third party reference in print to me not living in the city, I was thinking that I had been doing a lot of back and forth lately. Celebrating holidays and birthdays was putting miles of my car, my heart and my stamina, but I was keeping up with it. The idea of not being at these events never crossed my mind. I would be in both places, the city and the country. I would go to yoga, the gym, work and play and then grace the city with my presence for all other important functions. I wasn’t apart of another crew or group. I was doing it all – both places.

And then my first third party reference in print to me not living in the city – The Kingston Crew – happened. I live in Kingston. In the country. And all of my social networking people knew before I  realized it myself.

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