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

 


FEED YOUR HEAD

Alice looks a bit unhappy… perhaps too much cake and not enough tea?

I’ve been doing a lot of online research lately. Trouble-shooting I guess, since I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression. Wham! out of the blue I began having panic attacks two years ago, then last year I started having bouts of depression. I didn’t talk to anyone about it for a long time, then began therapy and finally admitted it to my sweetie. In August I found out these are very common symptoms of BII (breast implant illness) and usually go away after explant. Since I am not scheduled for surgery until July, I’ve been looking for a way to feel better sooner!

Everyone’s brains need feel-good nutrients now – what with the pandemic and the unfolding political situation here in the US.


While we can’t control either of those situations, we can take good care of ourselves, and our mental health, by eating right. Without a doubt, cocktails and comfort foods are comforting, but in the long-run they can leave us feeling worse. I have had to find a couple of alternatives to comfort myself that really do reduce stress and anxiety – picture Julie Andrews singing, “These are a few of my favorite things.”

A five or ten-minute guided meditation (found on Google)
An online exercise class (I do Nia with Holly Nastasi on FB)
A 20-minute walk outdoors, or if you live in snow-country, just a few deep breaths outside in the fresh air
A phone conversation with a friend
Hand-writing letters or notecards just to say, “Hi!”
Curling up with a really good book (I couldn’t put down “The Beauty in Breaking” by Michele Harper)
Taking a break for a “cuppa.” (see how testy Alice is getting…)

In my searching, I’ve found many articles written on the field of nutritional psychiatry: foods that help beat depression by giving the brain more of the nutrients it needs to thrive. I read that in a 12-week study, the people that improved their diets the most improved their mood the most. A long time ago one of my spiritual teachers said that “it’s not what’s eating you, it’s what you’re eating.” Turns out, there’s now the science to back him up.

So, what should we eat to feed our head? A Mediterranean-style diet full of fruits, fresh vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, plain yogurt and natural cheeses, beans, nuts, seafood, smaller portions of lean poultry and meat, and whole grains (except I have to skip the grains, unfortunately.) Please, enjoy that fresh whole wheat bread for me!

I’m also focusing on specific nutrients that are especially helpful: Probiotics which replenish the good bacteria in our guts. There is a strong link between our gut health and our brain health. To benefit both, add plain yogurt, sauerkraut, Kefir, Kosher dill pickles and fermented vegetables like kimchi… which I really need to learn to make, and that can be a whole blog if I can get a friend to come teach us! Vitamin B6 regulates our sleep and our mood, and too little is associated with depression. It’s a daily need and easily found in pistachios, garlic, salmon and tuna, bananas, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados and whole grains. And last, DHA the main omega-3 fat in our brains. It promotes new brain cells, and Heaven knows I need all of them I can get!
Seafood is probably the source we are all familiar with: wild salmon, oysters, mussels, and anchovies. But raw nuts; almonds, macadamia, cashew, and pecans are all good sources, too. There is one caveat – skip the can of dry-roasted, salted nuts – the processing and salt override their healthy benefits.
***I want to add a side-note here, I was taught long ago that if you eat well 80% of the time, you can “cheat” the other 20% and still be well. We all need an occasional indulgence!

So, that’s all the news for now. I’m going to make myself a cuppa and queue up “White Rabbit” on Pandora.

XO Donna



Thank Full

I learned a long time ago that if you look, you can always find something to be grateful for. These days, we don’t have to look far at all. A roof over our head and food in our pantry. Health, both our own and that of our loved ones – be they near or far this year. And a couple of extra dollars to donate to the local food bank.

And gratitude for friendships.

Thank you all for being here – or out there in the Ethernet. Thank you for your comments, for your advice, support, for sharing this blog, and for reading; giving me some of your time. Wishing you a delicious Thanksgiving!

XO Donna


Mind Control

DESIDERATA

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

(By Max Ehrmann © 1927)

collage by D.O’Klock

It is challenging not to feel the pressure  of everything that is going on these days, and last week was a toughie for everyone I spoke to. And that was before the death of one of my heroines, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I don’t need to tell you about her, there’s plenty written already. I am excited to learn more: I just ordered a book from Amazon, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg: A Life.”

It is a constant challenge to control my thoughts…  and I realize that they are the only thing I can control. Always and only, my thoughts and my actions.

We spoke about this in therapy group last week; letting go of things we cannot control. And for me, that includes being fearful, which robs me of the beauty, joy, and loving kindness still available in the world and in mankind. So, to counter feeling like I have no control, I do what I can: I tell people I love them. I write a check to the Food Bank. And I donate to PBS which has been a lifesaver for me during this time, and was a joy when I was raising my son.

And I read the Desiderata. I hope that it brings you some peace, too.

Much love, dear friends.
XO Donna

 


Value Added

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re like me, you have probably spent most of your life deriving your value from what you do, rather than who you are.

You’re a wife, or you were. You’re a Mom, or were… but now the kids are grown and flown. You may be employed or you may be an entrepreneur, or perhaps now you’re retired.

All of my life, in spite of hearing that it wasn’t so from the personal growth community, I derived my value from my work, the people I surrounded myself with, the way I looked, the interests that I had, and what I was doing and sharing. I was busy “earning my keep,” so to speak. When it (suddenly) seemed like none of those criteria were being met anymore, I had a minor, okay… a major crisis.

Who the the hell am I without all of that to define me anymore? 

I was feeling worthless, and as it so often turns out, I was asking the wrong question. I should have been asking, “What is it that I value, and do I count myself among those things?”
Curiously enough, this question seems to be popping-up for lots of people.  I noticed today that “Your Inherent Value” was a component of a new workshop a personal coach/friend is offering.
Last week I followed, avidly, a very long and thought-provoking conversation on Facebook all about, you guessed it… your value as an individual human, and how does one determine it.

I realized that our value, or self-worth, can indeed be gotten from what we do, but not from the job itself. For example, it wasn’t what I did for work, I see that my value was determined by the personal qualities I brought to my work: my manners, attention to details, my personal grooming, sense of artistry, conversational abilities, and especially gratitude, toward both my clients and the proprietor who provided space for me to be gainfully employed.

With family and friends, I valued my sense of humor, loyalty, honesty, an open heart and an open-mind. I’m dear friends with people on “both sides of the aisle” and while I don’t always agree with their point of view, I would never criticize, minimize, or cut them out of my life over politics. I value my sense of curiosity, independence, inclusivity, and delight in learning new things. I have had lots of interesting/alternative/life-changing experiences and thus have a unique way of viewing life.

I have slowly (and with the help of therapy) learned that other’s opinions of my value, or of what qualities/things I should value, are about them, rather than me. I can also disregard anything that doesn’t serve me.
It may not have always been the case, but if I were to make a list of all the things I value today, I would definitely include myself on that list.

 

Grateful for you,
XO Donna

 


Well Read

 

Like most of the country, we’ve had weird unseasonal weather down here. Last time I wrote you, it was so hot we were eating salads for dinner. Now it’s definitely autumn, with a freeze or two thrown in for good measure.

One day it’s flip-flops, and the next it’s boots and a puffy jacket. Ah, Texas.

I am grateful that I can choose not to go anywhere when the weather is beastly… and stay home and spend the day reading. As a friend recently said, “We’re retired, every day is Saturday!” Now that I can focus enough to savor a well-written book again, I want to share what I’ve recently read and loved. I think all of these would make great holiday gifts for the readers on your list.

  1. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – I am a big fan of all Ms. Gilbert’s work, although my favorite is still The Signature of All Things. This newest book creates an immersion into the sexy and fast-paced 1940’s show-biz, club scene with a coming-of-age tale that will sweep you up and take you along for the roller-coaster ride!
  2. Educated by Tara Westover – This New York Times best-seller is a stunning, insightful memoir that reads like the very best fiction. The author was born to survivalists in the Idaho mountains. Her family distrusted both the educational and medical systems, and lived with their own skewed code of ethics. Teaching herself enough to get into college, she went on to graduate from Brigham Young, Harvard and Cambridge Universities.  An eye-opening read about a young woman’s courage and conviction to get not only an education, but a better life for herself.
  3. Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs – Another memoir, this one is by Steve Jobs’ daughter. I will say, I alternately hated him, wanting to quit reading, and felt sorry for him. It felt voyeuristic to keep reading at times… and my heart broke over and over for the author. The book gave me some perspective on Steve Jobs, being told by a wise, insightful, and talented writer that wanted to love him, and be loved by him in return.
  4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Also a N.Y.T. bestseller, and it’s very easy to see why! This story – of a fiercely independent young girl living alone in the marsh, leads up to a suspected murder that takes place in 1969, the year I graduated high-school. I found it easy to empathize with, and admire, the main character. I know I could not have had the courage to live as she did. I also appreciate that this is the author’s first novel, and she just turned 70. If you love nature (and Barbara Kingsolver’s books) you will absolutely love this book!
  5. Sand & Water by Michael Hoerning – Who knew a romance story could also be a can’t-put-it-down-page-turner?  I’m not a fan of the romance genre, but this engaging and well-written debut novel won me over. Romance, friendship, personal growth and spirituality, this book has it all. And, the icing on the cake… Michael is my cousin! I am very happy that his work is so good, and hope he writes another book soon.

I’ve also been re-reading my own book: Sick and Tired & Sexy, Living Beautifully with Chronic Illness. I find that it’s good to remind myself of what I know… taking my own advice, so to speak.

All of the books here are available at Amazon.com. Now, I need your help: have you read a great book you’d like to recommend? I need a great vacation read. One that will distract me on the plane, and amuse/entertain/educate me poolside. Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Thank you in advance,

XO Donna



Don’t Tread on Me!

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I was greeted yesterday morning, over a delicious cup of coffee NOT made by me (since I’m clever enough to sleep an hour later than my darling) by the news that our neighborhood newsletter was warning more about snakes needing to be removed from people’s homes.

Do you remember the scene from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones is hanging over a pit full of writhing serpents and says, “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

That’s exactly how I feel about them, and to hear about this before I’d even finished my coffee.  Arrrggghhh!!  

So what’s a gal to do?  Since we live in a city, (we’re out in the country, but it’s still within a city) a shotgun is out of the question. Not that I’d ever kill one, no matter how afraid I was.  Education (as with most things in life) is the answer!

Having been horrified when I moved here, upon learning that there are poisonous snakes everywhere in Texas, I took advantage of an avid herpetologist friend’s knowledge  to learn everything I could about snakes.  I wanted to be able to recognize the ones I needed to worry about…  instead of worrying about them all.

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As it turns out, any snake will try to bite us to defend itself, even a little green garden snake.  The State of Texas is home to 15 potentially dangerous snake species or subspecies. 

Despite this, each year, there have been more deaths in Texas attributed to lightning strikes than to venomous snakebites. The four poisonous snakes species here: rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes.

By not hanging around the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks, I can avoid water moccasins. Copperheads? Rattlesnakes? Out here, in the woods… and I’m not a hiker through uncharted trails. Nope, thanks.

Coral snakes are small with little-bitty mouths, usually only biting fingers when we stick our hands somewhere without looking first. I don’t garden without gloves, don’t reach into trees or bushes or woodpiles without looking first. 

 Snakes tend to be accidental house crashers. You might find one curled in a corner on your patio looking for coolness in the heat of the summer. Or in your garage… seeking the same. 

The good news? Rattlesnakes will usually signal if you’ve startled them by rattling or buzzing their tails,  giving you an opportunity to pee in your pants then run in the opposite direction! 

I’ve lived here for 41 years, and have never seen a dangerous snake anywhere besides my herpetologist friend’s house! More good news – they are as afraid of us as we are of them! 

The newsletter shared common-sense tips for living where there are poisonous snakes: turn on a light and have a look around before stepping out on your patio at night, or into your garage. And even look around first before stepping out on your patio during the day. Mindfulness, that’s all.

If you encounter a poisonous snake in your garage, on your patio, or in your garden… run away, and call wildlife management. Or, if you live out here, you can call the group of “snake wranglers” who will come fetch them. 

XO Donna

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Like Goldilocks

I realized after we moved in that I’d sold my set of modern black bookcases. Somehow, I remembered having kept one… just in case. 

Now, in order to set up my office and conquer the chaos, (I have six boxes of books waiting for a place to live) I need to buy a new bookcase… which is actually pretty exciting. 

I also realized that I have finally outgrown my “black phase,” which is pretty exciting, too. This all seems relatively simple and straightforward, right?  

What I want is a white bookcase. Or maybe a very light grey one. Under $200.00. With a little bit of trim, so it won’t look like dorm furniture.

Plan A:  Get online at IKEA, since there’s one nearby, and see if there’s one that fits the bill, then go get it. I’m always up for the challenge of assembling a piece of furniture. I quickly found exactly what I was looking for, and my sweetie and I headed off for a short field trip. 

We thought we knew the shortcuts through the maze at IKEA, but they have done some rearranging and we ended up totally missing the furniture section and display of bookcases. 

No matter, I went to the Information kiosk, looked up the product number and aisle location, and voila! There was just one problem: the box was more than six feet long and weighed almost 75 pounds! We couldn’t lift it. Well, he couldn’t do it alone, and I couldn’t help since my shoulder is still out of whack. This bookcase was just too big!

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I moved on to Plan B: Find someone who delivers… preferably for free. Amazon, Rooms to Go, and Home Depot (did you know they now sell really nice looking furniture online?) Nothing I liked on Amazon. Nor at RTG. I went to Home Depot’s website and found a beautiful bookcase, but it was shorter than I wanted; so maybe a pair might work. Alas, side-by-side they were five inches too wide for the space allotted. Dang it, this bookcase was too wide!

 Who knew that buying a bookcase could be such a challenge? 

I looked further, but I wasn’t finding what I had in mind. Staring at the floor, well actually, at my new rug, I realized I could probably find one at BirchLane.com the same place I bought the rug. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise… surprise, surprise!” 

They had so many nice ones that I had to enact another plan.  Plan C: pick out the first three white ones in my price range, write down their measurements, see which fits best and get ‘er done!

One of them was off-white, and another was rustic white; picturing them next to my modern white desk, I decided on the third one, which was white. At last, a bookcase that was just right! 

image from catalogue 

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I was expecting it Monday, but got an email this morning saying it would be delivered today. It just arrived, and it came with free shipping!

XO Donna

(P.S. – I am not compensated in any way for any store I mention when I write. I wish! I have faves, and I like to share what I have good experiences with.)


Here’s to Us!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Thanksgiving. It’s December 19th and we are in San Antonio, at one of our favorite RV parks. I hated to leave Austin with the holidays coming up… but San Antonio at Christmastime is something we looked forward to. Read More