Today I’m heading over to Food & Friends, one of my favorite D.C. charities, to talk about the work they do, the role of collaboration in alleviating hunger, food equity, and nutrition as a key driver of improved health. This is the first traveling segment of the Breaking Bread Podcast and I’m so excited to highlight an organization that gives so much to our neighbors who need our care and support. Stay tuned!
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” ~J.K. Rowling
Happiness lies in the actions we take to build the world we want. This is my yardstick for creating a life that makes me happy: is what I’m doing today making something better for someone somewhere? If my answer is yes, I get to work. If my answer is no, I mix it up and try something else. It’s this constant pursuit of imagining better, and then doing better, that makes life worthwhile.
“Life itself is the proper binge.” ~Julia Child
I’ve written about Julia Child several times on my blog. She found her passion and talent for cooking relatively late in life. She was someone who lived on her own terms, defied stereotypes, broke down barriers, and treasured friendship, love, travel, and good food with good company in equal amounts.
As I’m working on my podcast, Breaking Bread, I’m thinking about her example a lot. I’ll be in my kitchen trying a new recipe or on my couch reading a food-related news piece and often think “how would Julia do this?” or “what would she think of this idea?” The answer I always come up with is that she would follow joy. That’s not necessarily the easy road or the path that will take the least amount of time. She did what made her happy, whether that had to do with food or otherwise. She took a huge amount of pride and joy in being alive, working hard, and doing what she loved.
I think I’m going to hang up a little picture of her somewhere in my kitchen as a reminder that bingeing on the sheer pleasure of being alive is a wonderful way to be.
When you know, you know. They say this about love and it’s true of friendship, too. From the moment I met my friend, Rachael, I knew we’d be friends. Call it Kismet. Call it synchronicity. I call it luck. This weekend I was one of the very fortunate people to attend Rachael’s wedding to her equally wonderful new husband, Jon, whom I also immediately knew would become my friend the moment I met him.
I’m inspired by the happiness they find in just being with one another. The fun and laughter they share generously and often with everyone who knows them has helped them to create a life that is full of people who love and support them and their many endeavors. I’m so proud and honored to be one of them. Their wedding was a wonderful reminder of what can happen when you open your heart and put someone else’s happiness on equal footing with your own. It’s a lesson I’m so happy to be reminded of.
Rachael and Jon, I wish you an incredible life filled with boundless joy, endless love, and countless adventures.
Don’t you hate it when you’re having a tough time and someone’s first reaction is, “oh you’ll be fine.” My first thought is always “how the hell do you know that?” And then my second thought is, “they’re right. I am going to be fine. I’ve gotten this far, haven’t I?”
In the midst of any kind of stress, it’s easy to feel down-trodden, to feel like it’s never going to get better. But bit by bit, step by step, day by day, we can and do make things better. I know it’s not easy. I know that it sometimes feels like we’re going backward or in the completely opposite direction of where we think we want to go. And maybe you are. When that happens to me, in time I realize that’s the way I had to go—completely out of the way!—to find something or someone I needed to move forward.
Goodness knows there is plenty to be disappointed about in the world today. Flip on the news in any channel of your choice, and it’s there front and center – violence, heartbreak, and a massive amount of fear. It makes you want to tear your hair out, right? I certainly feel that way at some point every day. And then I have to remind myself that yes, I am just one person and yes, I can have an impact. I can at least shape my very tiny corner of the world through my time, energy, attention, and funds. Once I remember that, I find myself replacing those feelings of helplessness with pure hopefulness. And I’ve found that hope is where all great change begins.
When you tell people you’re writing something, the first question they ask is “what is it about?” Here is my brief synopsis (think dust jacket description) of my book, Where the Light Enters. Many thanks to my friends, Alex and Kelly, the first two champions of this story and devoted test readers. Their advice has helped shape Emerson into the character she’s become.
Fifteen-year-old Emerson wants to know who killed her mother, Nora, and why. Nora was a gifted anthropologist well known for her research on ancient cultures and languages. Five years ago, Nora was found dead on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We’ve never seen anything like it,” the NYPD’s spokesperson said. “Life has gone out of her with no explanation.” And with that, the police gave up their search for answers.
But Emerson didn’t. Her journey to discover the answers about her mother’s death takes her deep below the street of New York City on a dangerous adventure into a secret world of books where the very existence of human imagination is at stake. She must survive and thrive through a battery of mental, emotional, and physical challenges if she is to fulfill her destiny, protect everyone she loves, and continue her mother’s legacy. If Emerson fails, human creativity and imagination will cease to exist.
Time is running out. A dangerous threat looms large and too close to home as Emerson must choose between fulfilling the last promise she made to her mother and ensuring that the human capacity for creativity is preserved forever. Will she defy her mother’s final wish or sacrifice the only living family she has left?
On Monday, someone was really stressing me out. Or at least I thought they were. I was stressing myself out with things I didn’t need to worry about. My situation wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. And I let someone else make a bigger deal out of something than it really is.
I woke up on Tuesday morning after a somewhat fitful night’s sleep, and decided to change my perspective on the incident. I used the trick my friend, Alex, so often reminds me of – 3 months from now I won’t even remember why I got so ruffled on Monday. I probably won’t even remember the name of the person who bothered me. I let myself 3 months older counsel me and tell me that everything is fine now and will be even more fine with just a little bit of time.
And you know what? It worked. And as Brian and my former boss Bob G. so often tell me, once we decide to do something, the universe rises up as a great ally. We change our whole world by changing our mind.
A big step in life, even if it’s a welcome and wonderful thing, still carries some fear with it. That happened to me yesterday. It looks like I’ll be making a big change ahead of schedule. I was planning to make this change in about a year but for reasons I never saw coming, I need to make it sooner rather than later. Off and on all day, my heart would race, my breath would get shallow, and my mind wandered. I needed some grounding so I sat down, closed my eyes, put my hands on my heart, and just focused on my breath.
What I realized is that it’s the anticipation of taking the big step that is scarier than actually taking it, whether that step is a new job, a new home, a move, or a drastic change in routine. Once we know we need to adapt to a new reality, we just do. Then we go on and do the best we can. And so, I did. Thanks to the many friends who helped me to see that this is the right way forward.
Alice Tan Ridley is a woman on the rise, literally and figuratively. One of the amazing things about New York City that I always miss now that I live in Washington, D.C. is the presence of music everywhere. It’s especially prevalent in the New York subway, and for 30 years, Alice Tan Ridley was one of those subway performers. She’s 63.
Now she’s about to release a new album, appropriately titled “Never Lost My Way”, and this time that release will be done with an event at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea. It’s always encouraging to see people’s dreams rise up and into the light. It’s my great hope that she is only at the very beginning of a long line of successes. Let her voice, and the story behind her rise, fill the ears of everyone who needs hope, encouragement, and, of course, the healing power of music.
Happy 7th birthday to this sweet little monkey. Phineas is my dog who is 16 pounds of love and loyalty. I’m so lucky he adopted me! I’m going to make sure he enjoys his day.