Fresh Start

I’m probably the last person to wish you a Happy New Year, as we are now one third of the way into the month. But, Happy New Year!
Jeez, we just took our tree down yesterday! It smelled so good, and we were both enjoying its “mood lighting” so much that we weren’t in a rush. This is the first holiday season, since we moved here four years ago, that we’ve enjoyed the holidays so much!

We’ve had greatsocial-media interactions with friends, hours on the phone with beloved out-of-state family members. We had a delightful, delicious, and very relaxed Christmas brunch with in-town family, and finished everything off with a stunning dinner with dear friends at a special restaurant that is extra-special during the holidays.

Fonda San Miguel, Austin TX

Our friends arrived early, just as the restaurant opened and captured this photo… 15 minutes later when we joined them it was buzzing with life! I hate to admit it has been more than 20 years since I’ve eaten here. Fonda San Miguel serves the finest authentic interior, and coastal, Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico. The restaurant opened in 1975 – I moved here three years later, but it wasn’t until the early-eighties that I first dined here. It always felt like a “special occasion” restaurant to me; the regional cuisine, authentic decor, their greenery and a parrot or two, and a glass skylight over it all. Fortunately, I used to go rather often. I learned a lot about great food here, many of their recipes were inspired by their friend Diana Kennedy, an expert and cookbook author who has been described as the “Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine!”

Please go to their website (fondasanmiguel.com) for a look. You’ll see a photo of a beautiful poblano pepper with a (brandy-walnut) cream sauce and pomegranate seeds sprinkled over it. These are made especially for Christmastime, and that’s what I had for dinner. Amazing!
We are talking about making a reservation and going again in the spring for their Sunday Brunch. I can’t wait.

Speaking of food, it’s just cookies, but it was a big win for me: I finally baked a batch of Linzer Tarts for my son that came out nearly as good as his Italian Grandmother & Great-grandmother’s. Despite having their recipes all of these years I’ve avoided a few… how could I ever hope to equal theirs? This year, their recipes and my skill level have finally, deliciously aligned. I may have to bake him another batch for his birthday in a couple of weeks!

And, speaking of Mexican food menus, I have been studying Spanish for more than 500 days on Duolingo. I began during the pandemic and have developed a routine now. I’m always surprised when I receive my weekly update of my stats which tells me how many new words I’ve learned in a week, how many phrases I’ve mastered, and how many hours I’ve put in; usually 3-5 hours a week.
I studied Spanish all through high school, and although I was a good learner, I was a middle-of-the-road student because I didn’t do my homework. At one point in my life I could actually carry on conversations and read books (One Hundred Years of Solitude) in Spanish. Trying to become fluent seemed like a good goal, something to give structure to my mostly unstructured days.
I definitely recommend Duolingo. I started with the free version, and have upgraded to the paid one. If you are doing it, or decide to do it, let’s connect and get a study/fun group going, okay?

I hope your holidays were merry and bright, and that this new years offers new opportunities, good health, and happiness.
I am glad you are here with me, reading my rambling, and hopefully smiling.

XO Donna


GOOD THINGS

Since I last posted, I had a birthday and turned 71. Unimaginable! If you’re not there yet, it’s just fine, I don’t suddenly feel “old.”
Old is absolutely a state of mind, a way of looking at life. A choice. And one I am not choosing.

To celebrate, we had a delicious lunch out – yes, in a public place! I have been hesitant to go any place without a mask for a long time, despite being vaxxed and boosted, and having had both a flu and pneumonia shot. As Dr. Fauci said, “An over-abundance of caution.”
I love that, and I think he’s pretty cute, too. So, I’m finally dipping my toes in the water.

The restaurant we chose was spacious, with lots of room between the tables, so I felt safe. The building was originally the old city post office here in Georgetown which has been newly renovated into a modern and elegant space, with tall charcoal wainscoting and soaring ceilings. There’s even a grand piano in the main dining room, which could be another wonderful reason to return.

As a reminder of its past-life, they’ve left a bank of post boxes in the entry foyer. We used them as a backdrop for our photo. I always judge a restaurant by the state of it’s Ladies Room – and it was immaculate and beautifully appointed. Add a daybed and it would make a lovely boudoir. Gave me some decorating ideas!

My dear friend Mike, (on right) whom you’ve met before, came with us to celebrate our Scorpio birthdays! We’ve been doing this for years. I’m lucky to have him in my life. The three of us were seated in a spacious, yet still cozy, booth. The food was great, and our waitress was on top of every single thing, a delight in this age of indifferent service. We even met and chatted with the manager. As were were leaving our waitress took this photo of us. Another great birthday on the books!

I’m a big BBC and Masterpiece fan, and I have a couple of things to recommend. First, “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont,” was a joy. It stars Joan Plowright, who strikes up a sweet (not romantic) friendship with a young writer. It turns out they have more in common with each other – despite the age difference – than they do with people their own ages. I really love the theme of intergenerational friendships. Living in a place where everyone is the same age, I really miss having that, as I did when I worked.
In my rating system, I give this movie 5 hearts.

Next is “Enola Holmes.” Do I mean Holmes, like? Yes, Mycroft and Sherlock’s Holmes younger sister. A wonderful, exciting romp about a young girl who was unconventionally raised, then abandoned, by her suffragette, firebrand mother – played by Helena Bonham Cater.
Enola struggles to find her place, though her gift is undeniable, and eventually, after lots of adventures and misadventures, all becomes clear. It’s in two parts, and worth watching on your own, but it would be fun to watch with kids old enough (10+) to follow the plot and be inspired by the lessons learned. Especially liberating for young girls. This movie gets another 5 hearts.

And last, but not least, I am anxiously awaiting a new film starring Bill Nighy. You know him, of course – he played the aging rock star in “Love Actually.” (Which you must put on the top of your holiday watchlist!)
I believe I have seen everything he’s ever acted in, he’s that good and that watchable. The new film is called, “Living,” which comes out here in the States on December 23, after its debut at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

The film has an amazing pedigree: inspired by the 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy, with a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel and Booker prize winner who wrote The Remains of the Day. It’s set in the 1950s about a civil servant who has dutifully trudged through life, and upon finding out he has cancer, and not a lot of time left, decides to make his remaining time count. If anyone can make this beautiful, it’s Nighy. I can’t wait…. c’mon Santa!

For now, I wish you all a lovely Thanksgiving, and a safe journey if you’re traveling. I am thankful that you are all at the other end of this post, reading and maybe learning some fun new things. I look forward to hearing how your Thanksgiving went.

And, if you are a Black Friday fan, I’ve got a sale running in my shop, starting Friday with Free Shipping, no code needed. Here’s the address.
I’ve been told the link didn’t work, but you can copy and paste, or just type this out. Thanks to Trish for letting me know!

etsy.com/shop/fairviewphotos

XO Donna


ASK YOUR MOTHER

My youngest sister Elizabeth and I have been having long conversations lately where we wonder about our Mom’s relationship with her older (and only) sister Wilma. Their age difference was also 14-15 years. I know my mother adored and missed Wilma because she took me, then me and Terry, then me, Terry and Lynn to visit her each year. And I remember watching her write letters. Lots of letters.

I’ve talked about my love of those long train trips trips from NYC to St. Louis, MO before. I enjoyed every minute, but can you imagine being a young woman of 25 with three babies traveling by train across country? The question we ask is, “Why did she move to NY when her whole family was in the St. Louis area?

I’ve never wondered why my parents married at City Hall with a Justice of the Peace, just accepted it at face value, but Elizabeth finds it inconceivable that they wouldn’t have had a wedding with all of Mom’s family in attendance. Maybe they didn’t accept my Yankee father… or his religion, and dealing with that was more than they wanted to do. Maybe money was an issue, Dad had just come home from the Korean war and was building a career. Maybe it seemed more romantic to them to elope. There is so much that we know nothing about…

(My parents. December 3, 1950. My mother’s jacket and skirt were the loveliest camel-colored velvet.)


As we talk about this gap in our knowledge of our Mom, we wish that we’d been more present, asked her questions, listened between the lines to what she was saying. Well, just listened, period. Kids tend to be innately more self-centered.

With a house full of kids and all the work that caring for six other people entailed (Mom had the five of us girls by the time she was 35, birth control not being an option back then) I’m sure she didn’t have time to reminisce about her hopes or dreams, or why she made the choices she made. And having married at only 19, had she even had time to think about any of it yet, really?

There are so many questions that neither of us knew to ask. I think this would make a good book – asking everyone, asking all of you, “What do you wish you had asked your Mother while you could?” Please, please , please if you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments. Who knows where it’ll go?

She’s been gone 24 years now, and I almost miss her more, but the things I miss about her are different now; I miss the “her” that I never knew.

I appreciate you all,

XO Donna


Business As Usual

Well, I say that… I certainly have my routines: I walk every other day, I do Nia classes twice a week, I cook every day and bake often- more and more it is sweets, and I do have to lay off them a bit. Or walk a little farther a little faster! Then I watchJeopardy every afternoon and British crime/detective shows after dinner. But I feel bored quite often. Or is it ennui?

RETIREMENT is waking up in the morning with nothing to do and by bedtime only having done half of it.

– Unknown

About that – there are things I can do, and that I tell myself I want to do, but I guess I’m just not bored enough yet to clean out closets for Goodwill, or do my taxes, or get out the sewing machine to sew or tailor a few blouses so they will fit better. And those things weigh on me.

But I also haven’t given myself credit for the things I have done, and I’ve accomplished some things I feel good about;

  • I have been studying Spanish on DuoLingo for more than a year. I had a 346-day streak going, but missed Monday because of an opthamologist appointment that left my eyes too dilated to do anything for hours. My reading and comprehension are much improved, and I understand many of the idioms and nuances of the language. I am now at the point where I need to practice speaking to someone. My friend Holly (who teaches Nia movement classes) does weekly classes on ZOOM with a native speaker. I am ready to sign up. I am also terribly nervous… but, I am sure it will be fun.
    I started DuoLingo with their free APP, but quickly upgraded, as it has so much to offer. For the price, I highly recommend it – I’ve been trying for years to become fluent again.
  • I learned about the HOT GIRL WALK exercise trend. Young girls are doing it, aiming for an hour daily, five days a week. Dressing in cute outfits and accessorizing! What struck me about it though is something we all will benefit from – while walking, “ONLY think about your goals, what you are grateful for, and how “hot” you are.”
    Walking and mindfulness are both great for improved memory and cognition, cardiovascular health, lowering stress and improving mood. Why not do them together AND make it an act of self-love, too!
  • For all of my Jewish friends, I want to wish you a very sweet and Happy New Year! I made my very first matzoh ball soup and it was delicious. I read Ina Garten’s recipe, and Martha Stewart’s recipe, and between my stock in the freezer and the herbs I had on hand, plus ideas from their matzoh recipes, the result was good. Even my sweetie tried it and went back for seconds. That’s saying somethin!
Fluffy and Flavorful.

This involves a friend – and it’s a WARNING about something I’ve never even thought about! A dear friend travels frequently for her job, and carries her vitamins/supplements in a daily pill carrier which she leaves in her room. She’d come home from her trip and was “refilling for next week” when she noticed two black capsules in the two remaining compartments WITH the rest of her supplements. They were not hers, and she didn’t put them there!

She notified the hotel, and the police, and is having them tested. I am so glad she noticed them, rather than just gulping them down!
When I travel again, I will keep my medicine carrier in the safe from now on. I used to just leave it in my carry-on after checking in… no more.

Thanks for reading, let’s all go out there and be HOT! Try new things, cook new things, share new things. Write letters to people to tell them you love them. (My cards are on sale at etsy.com/shop/fairviewphotos ) Go travel, have fun, stay safe. And get ready to vote soon. Vote for everyone that supports women, girls, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Nobody’s going to give us equal rights, we have to support each other and think about our kids and their kids.

All my love and gratitude –
XO Donna


Forever Young

Have you ever read something (other than politics) that just pisses you off?

I read a post on Sunday by a fitness guy I follow who said “what do you think of when you think of the average 62-70 year old? Shuffling along, stooped over, looking down at their feet to see where they’re going so they don’t trip, right?”

I’M INSULTED! After reading further, I realized that his ultimate point was that our bodies are designed to be strong and capable well into old age, but only “IF you never stopped moving, playing, lifting, climbing, and running… from childhood on.” Our society has become too sedentary, thus, too unfit and unhealthy too early. But, not us, right?

MY FIRST WAY to stay “young” is to stay strong and flexible. If you are playing, chasing, lifting and entertaining your Grands, do it as much as you can. If they wear you out, don’t start sitting on the sidelines, get stronger – for them and for yourself.

There are so many ways to accomplish this. What is my routine? I’ve done Nia Classes taught by my dear friend Holly (http://hollynastasi.com) for more than 20 years. Now I do them on Zoom with people from all across the world!
I also walk briskly 2-3 times a week, do crunches after walking, Plank daily, yoga stretches and crawling/playing on the floor regularly.

FLOORPLAY – MY HAPPY PLACE

While walking is great, it doesn’t engage your whole body; add some Yoga, Chair Yoga, Nia, Pilates, Zumba, Bicycling, Water Aerobics, Light Weights training, or Kettlebell. Just find something you love and go for it!

THE SECOND WAY to stay “forever young” is to develop intergenerational friendships. I have been very lucky to have friends both much older and much younger than myself.

The young stylists I met at work were a tough crowd, LOL. We could have easily dismissed each other because of our age, but they teased me into learning the latest technology, fashion trends, and music, while showing me a lot of respect for my life-skills . They are what I most miss about no longer working in the beauty industry.
Other friendships were formed over a love of good food, photography and art, and mutual admiration. These talented young women have been willing to include me in their lives. I am honored.

My older friends guided me with nurturing, encouragement and the benefit of their life experiences. Two set great examples of being young at heart, and were certainly stand-ins for my Mom after she passed in ’98. They were always generous, engaged, and active.

Nancy became client in the mid-1980s, and we became fast-friends. She was a little-bit coastal-grandmother – her family had a large Victorian summer-home on Rhode Island – and a little bit hippy. She hiked for years, and did yoga into her 90’s. She read widely, had been a librarian. I loved her style, her thoughtful way of speaking, her comfortable cottage in South Austin. We lived near each other, and I especially enjoyed being invited to lunch at her home.

We shared a love of blue & white Asian bowls, and on one of our last visits, I photographed these on her sunlit shelf, creating this watercolor.
She was always open-minded, curious, and inclusive. I miss her terribly.

NANCY’S NEW CUT (that bone-structure!)
Nancy’s Bowls

I met Lee at BookPeople in Austin, when we attended a book-signing for three women we both knew. She “took me under her wing,” became my friend, and was always a steadfast cheerleader as I wrote my book and struggled to regain my health. She is the first person I acknowledged in my book, and I don’t know if I would have finished it without her checking in on me.

Lee and I shared a love of hair and fashion, and Lee loved being right in the thick of things, in the spotlight if possible. Being shy, I admired that quality a lot!

She was a successful public speaker, who left Exxon to pursue her own career, then created a school to train hundreds of others to do what she did. Lee’s 90th birthday party (below) was an amazing gathering of all the people whose lives she had touched. She pledged that night to have another for her 100th, but passed away last year, 4 years shy of her goal. I really miss our annual birthday lunches, and her bright, cheery voice!

Lee’s 90th Birthday Party
Lee @ 93 Our Annual Birthday Lunch @ Cheesecake Factory

I came across this photo the other day which I’d saved, and it’s a reminder to myself after I found myself thinking, “what does it matter if I go out looking like this?”
This is the THIRD WAY to stay youthful, and this picture really is worth a thousand words.

We’ve gotta live like we’ve got lots more life ahead of us, because we may have. What we do today will affect our tomorrows.

Thanks for being in my life. I loved all of your comments!
XO Donna


SYNCHRONICITY

Isn’t it odd how someone you haven’t seen for years can suddenly float into your mind, and then, bam! you run into them in a place you would never have imagined?

I live 35 miles NW of Austin, Texas… and my dentist, and quite a few of my doctors, are there.
I’m completely unwilling to go to anyone else, so I usually plan a few things around medical visits when I am going to be in town. Today was a twice-rescheduled dental cleaning and new x-rays. Then off to get bloodwork done. Last stop, visit my son to sit in the shade to enjoy lunch with him.

I parked on the street in front of the big old brick home where he rents an apartment. It’s a beautiful neighborhood close to the university, lots of tall trees and still has un-metered parking. He has a tiny brick patio under those tall trees, and that’s where we always visit.

When we said our good-byes, I climbed into my now very hot car, got my purse settled, and was waiting for the A/C to cool the car. I was just about to fasten my seatbelt and leave, when I saw a man walking towards the car parked in front of me.

It couldn’t be… I was thinking about him and his wife just yesterday, remembering their swimming pool, with its dark bottom, shaded and made private in the middle of downtown Austin, by bamboo. I wished I was in that pool, and hoped they were well.

Side-note: our friendship ended about seven years ago – when she and I fell-out.

I got out of my car and called out to him, never stopping to wonder if I’d be rejected, and was greeted with a warm hug, and a nice conversation.

I always do my best to forgive and move on. Sometimes the ending of a friendship is wistful, you wish it had gone down differently, you miss them. Other times, you chalk it up to a lesson learned, and that person becomes “just somebody that I used to know.” You know?

This fell into the first category. I don’t know if anything will come of this, I expect nothing. But I finally got to say that I am sorry for the way our friendship ended, and let him know that I think of them often, fondly. He said they felt the same way, too.

As he was walking back to his car he turned to me, “Your birthday is still November 6th, right?”

I’m amazed at everything that conspired to make this happen – 30 seconds later and it wouldn’t have. I feel like I am finally getting my mojo back!

XO. Donna

PS – Speaking of Mojo – everything in my Etsy shop is on sale half-price. They make lovely gifts. Link below. XO

etsy.com/shop/FairviewPhotos


M-M-M is for Macaroons

I trust you all had a lovely Passover, or a beautiful Easter. Maybe you were lucky enough to celebrate both, as I did. Life is short, holiday food is wonderful, celebrate everything!

I wanted to bring a special dessert to our hostess for Easter Dinner – she’s allergic to eggs – so I decided to make coconut macaroons sans eggs. I love experimenting, and after reading quite a few eggless versions on Pinterest, I created my own.
It varied from all the others because I feel that using sweetened condensed milk AND sweetened coconut flakes is just TOO much sugar.
And, since I’d be eating them, I also made them gluten-free.

Egg-Free Coconut Macaroons

I chose to use unsweetened coconut, and let it soak in the sweetened condensed milk for 15 minutes because these flakes tend to be a bit drier than typical commercial shredded coconut. Then I added the remaining few ingredients, and using two spoons, scooped blobs onto my parchment lined baking sheet. With damp fingers I pushed them together and mounded them.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler:

  • 10 oz. bag Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes (Whole Foods, Amazon, maybe even Trader Joes)
  • 14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 Cup gluten-free Cup-4-Cup (or similar) OR all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 almond extract
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips, or any other semi-sweet chocolate, chopped for melting and drizzling over top.

First: I let the coconut sit in the condensed milk for 15 minutes. Then I added the two extracts, stirred, and sprinkled in the flour and salt. Stir this all till thoroughly combined.

Second: Using a cookie scoop, or two tablespoons, place mounds of mixture on prepared cookie sheet. Dampen fingers and press up into mounds.

Third: Bake 18 – 20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit 5 mins on cookie sheet, then gently move to wire rack to cool completely. You can eat them now, as is, but I think they were better the next day after softening-up a bit.

OR: You can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring each time creamy and liquid, maybe a minute. Using a teaspoon, I filled it with the melted chocolate and let it fall off the edge of the spoon as I’d wave the spoon back and forth, zig-zagging it onto the cookies while they were on the wire racks.

It took a couple of tries to get them looking the way I envisioned them. ( I ate all of the messy evidence of my learning curve! LOL)

All Mixed Up

And here they are fresh from the oven! If you put chocolate on them, put them back on the cookie sheet and in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden the chocolate. Then plate them and cover with plastic wrap. These keep in a Ziploc type bag for four days, if they last that long!

Perfectly Baked

It is always nice to find simple treats to prepare for friends and family that can accommodate multiple food allergies and taste so good that everyone enjoys eating them. Maybe you can make them for Mother’s Day? And if you do, please let me know what you thought.
Thank you for reading, I appreciate you!

XO Donna


Flowers

MOTHERS of REINVENTION

After spending the last six months recuperating, my energy is returning and my mind is busy searching for a project. Something to make. Something pretty and shiny. Something to share.

In order to free my mind, first I needed to clean out my closet, yet again and make space for that idea to come to me. I hate clutter.

I realized two things as I sorted through my clothes: first, I have lots of clothes I thought would be great for “retirement,” but I don’t like them anymore. They feel baggy now, and frumpy to me.
And the other thing is that the clothes I want to wear, and add to my closet, seem to be clothes for a lifestyle I don’t have.

Those clothes are more appropriate for a city-slicker on-the-go, than for living in Sun City, Texas.

I made a large donation pile that went to our local Goodwill, and I made a “sell on Poshmark” pile. You can’t recoup your money here, not even close, and not even on clothes that still have their tags on them, or have simply never been worn (why do I do still that?) but it is an excellent way of recycling good clothes and getting a couple of dollars for them.
My last pile is going to the tailors to be taken in and up. That’ll give me more options for now, and I haven’t even dug through winter clothes yet!

My next project was to finally choose a paint color for our bedroom, and maybe our bathroom. And maybe the guest bath, too. Our interior throughout is a lovely golden-tan that changes shades all day with the sunlight. Except in our bedroom – which abuts the screened porch, so it’s always dark-ish. I don’t like golds anyway (not my color) so without the benefit of sunlight, the color looks murky to me, especially in the corners.

I used to love to paint, was tidy and efficient, and became good at it after a professional friend gave me a couple of lessons. But it’s been ten years since I’ve painted a room. My sweetie wanted nothing to do with the project, he thinks the color is fine. It’s obvious we see color differently (men and women do, but that’s another blog). In order to get some visual aids to show him my idea, I bought stick and remove wall paint samples from Sherwin Williams. On their website, go to SAMPLIZE to order 12″ x 12″ squares of the actual paint colors for $6.00 each.

My first choice was a Greige, but it turned out to be the same murky tone as the gold when on the wall. I also ordered Shoji White and Alabaster White, wanting to keep them warm-ish. The clear winner is the Shoji White in an eggshell finish. You can see Agreeable Grey and Shoji White above. Now I really need to get that portrait by my friend Lory framed!

Although he doesn’t want to help paint – and that’s okay – when he sees how much fun I’m having, I’m sure he’ll roll up his sleeves and jump in! I’m not planning to begin painting right away, I’ll wait till the weather is cooler, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and now have a pretty and shiny new bedroom to look forward to by finally making a decision.

And last, the idea that finally arrived, and the one I am most excited about… the “something pretty to share” project: I am opening an online shop in ETSY where I will have some of my favorite photographs from the last 25 years available as “Fine Art” archival prints, “Fine Art” archival canvas, some “Fun Art” canvas, and packs of beautiful blank-inside greeting cards just waiting for your words.
For the cards, I’m beginning with a flower series, and have added four images below. I love that shy sunflower. The site will be called “Fairview by Donna O’Klock” and I will let you all know all the details in my next post!

My birthday is in just 16 days, and it’s one I worried I wouldn’t reach… I am glad that I always took good care of myself so that I could now join other women who are in their 70’s, and 60’s, and still chomping at the bit for something new and creative to do, to offer. Reinventing ourselves again.

Love you all, and thank you for reading,
XO Donna


SLEEPY TIME

“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.” Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Now that I am finally sleeping blissfully again, I can look back at how elusive sleep was for more than two years. I tried everything in order to get a good night’s sleep, and while nothing worked then, all of those new habits are now paying off splendidly!
Experts call this process Sleep Hygiene; revamping your habits and developing practices to improve sleep.

A good night’s sleep benefits everyone, in every way, from infants to centenarians.

My long-time favorite evening beverage.

This past year I saw lots and lots of people on social media complaining about sleep deprivation. Yes, there was a whole lot to be anxious about, so you can blame some of our collective sleeplessness on that. But a lot of our new behaviors are causing this sleep disruption: being glued to electronic devices at all hours, a lack of fresh air and daily exercise, working in a new environment (at home, in our pajamas, and often from our bed). Any one of these can contribute to sleeplessness, but compounded?

There are many consequences of poor sleep, especially when it occurs repeatedly.

  • Weakened immunity
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, and both short and long-term memory loss
  • Weight gain
  • Low sex drive
  • Risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Have you ever dealt with a cranky, frustrated, and over-tire toddler? Lack of sleep creates all of those emotions in us, too. Fortunately, we don’t usually throw a screaming tantrum. Although…

Developing a good night-time routine will help reinforce “Bedtime” in your mind, making it easier for you to sleep..

  • Limit naps and caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Build in a one hour buffer before bedtime to unplug from electronic devices. They cause mental stimulation and produce blue-light which can disrupt sleep. If you like to read at night, read a book, or use the black-screen on your e-reader.
  • Lower your lights to signal your brain that it’s time to relax.
  • If you’ve been working in pajamas all day, change to a different pair for bedtime.
  • Make your evening facial cleansing/moisturizing/tooth brushing routine into a relaxing ritual.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool enough, and if you need it, add some white noise. I used a small old-fashioned fan that whirred softly, but there are also white noise machines that you can purchase.

Experts say you should make this your Golden Rule: only use your bed for sex and sleeping, but I’m not about to hang-out on the couch when I don’t feel well, so I would include recuperation too.

I used to become anxious each night at bedtime because “I knew” I wasn’t going to fall asleep. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy until I developed a Daytime/Bedtime distinction in my mind. I also learned that if I went to bed and wasn’t asleep in 20 minutes, to get up. Stretch, read a book, sit quietly, or do something else calming, in low light, before trying to fall asleep again.

Do you have any tricks or practices that work for you that you would share? Let me know in the comments below.

We’d all like to be sleeping like a baby.

XO Donna


PURPLE REIGN

The first blog post I wrote for 1010ParkPlace was an article about the Color of the Year, and that I was excited because of what it represented. I’m having those same feelings again, still abuzz with excitement from last week’s Inauguration, and the fact that Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama all chose to wear brilliant shades of purple. Elizabeth Warren even wore a fuchsia neck scarf and matching mask.

Purple is special. Take to heart Alice Walker’s powerful line, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

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Politically, the color purple (borrowing from Alice) is significant because it represents bipartisanship. In this case, their outfits represent a hope for Red and Blue to work together… Heaven knows we could certainly use a lot more of that.

Do you remember elementary school art lessons about primary and secondary colors?  Red, Blue, and Yellow are the primary colors, and when you mix any two together you get a secondary color. Red and Blue mixed together become Purple.

Purple was one of the colors of the suffrage movement. In a 1913 newsletter, the National Women’s Party described their use of purple, stating that it “stood for loyalty, constancy to purpose, and unswerving steadfastness to a cause.”  My paternal grandmother, Carolina Basile, born to Italian immigrants, was a suffragette in NYC in the late 1920’s. Her steadfastness and vision, along with tens of thousands of others like her, gave women the right to vote, and lead all of us to this amazing moment in history: our first female Vice President!

Purple has long been associated with royalty, and along with it, power and wealth. There are a few reasons for this: Phoenician-purple dye was extremely time-consuming to create since it was made by gathering and crushing Murex Brandaris shells.  Thousands of shells were required to make enough dye for just one tunic, making it extremely expensive.

But even more than the cost of labor and all those poor sea-creatures, this dye was prized because rather than fade over time, the color increased in brilliance as it was exposed to sunlight and air!

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Purple was worn by Roman magistrates, then became the color of rulers in both the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, and later it was the color of the Roman Catholic Bishops. At some point in history, laws were enforced ensuring that only royals could wear it.

I think back to all of the paintings I’ve seen in museums where some royal, or another, is wearing a purple ermine-trimmed cape. I’ll pass on the fur, but I always noticed that splendid color. 

Which brings me to the reason I am most excited that purple is having its moment:  Violet represents the Crown Chakra –  Universal consciousness and our connection to a higher guidance. We are finally realizing that we are, in fact, all connected. I believe this represents the opportunity to work together from a more conscious and conscientious place, and move forward together. To accept each other across party lines, or whatever imaginary lines divide us.  

If you haven’t yet, do read Alice Walker’s, “The Color Purple.”  And every time you wear anything purple, I hope you remember how special the color is, and just how special you are!

XO Donna