Mother Knows Best

This is a picture of Chloe. Chloe sits in a chair in my mom’s living room – I am often startled by her when I come around the corner. I forget she is there and yet when I remember, I smile. She is an over sized stuffed doll, book in lap and glasses perched high on her nose. I think she has a Spirit.

I was visiting my mom this weekend and spent a lot of time around Chloe. Mom and I sat in the living room, playing with the new iPad I bought her.  It was as if Chloe was learning along with mom – she sat and listened intently to every detail.

It was a gift to be able to give my mom something so modern and to teach her how to use it, so that the distance between us could more easily be bridged. I miss being around her. She is really a smart and funny woman. Kind, generous and always spouting something political that makes my eyes roll, we teach each other.

My mom has always had a lot to say and has usually been ahead of her time. As a kid, she led a crusade to have all the junk food removed from the cafeteria in my elementary school and fed us Tigers Milk bars instead of candy.  She shopped in the natural foods store when it really was a natural foods store and not a Whole Foods store. She wanted to create a curriculum called Life 101 to teach kids the details of living life with money. Now they are every where. As a kid I was embarrassed. As an adult, I am eager to hear what she has to teach.

So this trip, when she told me I could rinse my hair with leftover coffee to tone out the gray, I laughed as usual, but listened. I actually asked for other tips. Then, I wondered if that was what Chloe had in the book in her lap: Tips from Mom.

Wherever they come from, there are some good ones. In the spirit of  Chloe and E (my mom), I pass them along. You can laugh. I do. But give em try and then remember, sometimes mother really does know best.

Coffee Rinse: Take a cup of coffee that’s left over and cool it down. After you shower, go to the sink, bend over and carefully pour the coffee through your hair. Use an old towel to blot it dry (as it will stain). As mom says, “it doesn’t cover it, but it tones it down.”

Coffee Scrub: Mush a few coffee grounds in with your soap and gently scrub your face. It will draw out impurities and bring out a little color in your cheeks. Rinse with cool water.

Lemon Scrub:

1 tsp Honey

1 tsp Lemon Juice

1 TBL Almonds ground or chopped up oatmeal

Zest of a lemon

A little Olive Oil

Mix it up and use as an exfoliate. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Lemon Nail Brightener: Soak in lemon juice for 5 minutes. Rinse in warm water

What natural tips did your mom MindFULLY share? Let us know!

Back In Focus

I love MindFULL Mondays. They encourage me to reflect on what fills me up, especially when I can slip into focusing on what drains me down.

Today’s reflection reminds me that I am one lucky person. I have had the good fortune of crossing paths with some incredible people. People who inspire me. People who leave me feeling the better for knowing them. People who leave a colorful mark on my Spirit.

Its important to remember this when I know better and still waste precious time perseverating on something silly, like let’s say…people who can’t return an email in a timely manner or without the words (every time) “sorry it has taken so long, but…” Or…or…or…

How do we change our focus? Change our lens!

And how do we do that? One way is simply in recognizing the g-dwink moments that show up to remind you that they are here.

I had one of those moments last month. Actually, it was my birthday and I was thinking of all of the things I wanted this year to be about. One was to re-learn how to use my camera. Two years ago, I received a beautiful camera from my family. It was meant to replace the two fabulous cameras I had received from one of THE creative muses in my life, K. James Kropp.

“Jim”, as he was known in my younger days, was a Creative Director in my first agency. Friendly, willing to teach, open to possibility and breathtakingly creative, Jim blessed me with his friendship as I moped over to the Account side and really longed to be on the Creative. When we both left the agency, we stayed friends and for years, talked and inspired each other. When I graduated from The Ed School at Harvard, Jim came to Cambridge and gifted me with his two old Canon cameras. One for B&W and one for Color. We walked the city (OK,  I walked and he rollerbladed) and he taught me how to use the cameras. Months later, when I was visiting him in Chicago, with my new eyes I took a series of city shots that rest on my mantel, today.

So, as I thought about learning how to use my (sorta) new camera this year, I sent a hello to my old friend. Of course, as creative sparks often happen with Jim, he told me in his return note about his new book, “Capturing Beauty with Your Camera – 10 Tips To Taking Better Photographs” ( and sent me a copy as a birthday present. It is delightful. In 10 easy tips, Jim teaches you how to look through a new lense, using the scenery of his cruise on Le Ponant to Sicily and Italy in October, 2009. He fills the pages with pictures and a few simple points that bring clarity and insight to the reader and doer.

I don’t know which has had more of an impact. The fact this man and his book showed up (again) when I was longing for a teacher or the fact that this man and his book showed up when I was longing (again) to change my focus.

It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they did and so did I. I think you will, too. Even if you aren’t into photography, go online and check out his website, Allow him to transport you to far away places. And just maybe, when you return, you too will have a new focus on the moments that matter. And you can delete those that don’t.


How do you  MindFULLY change your focus? Let us know!


MindFULLY Reading

It’s Labor Day. A funny name, for I think few labor on this day. Nonetheless, it marks the end of summer and beginning of Fall. And the beginning of Fall marks a soon to be Winter.

Having spent the last year in the pursuit of all things outside of myself, I am ready to turn my attention back to my mind. Some days I feel like I am losing it. I think one of the best ways to keep it sharp  is to pick up a good book. Colette would say it is by playing Words With Friends and learning all the two letter words she claims are real, but that is a post for other time. This Fall and Winter, I have committed to reading one Classic per season. However, there are so many. Where to begin? Pondering this notion over our usual glass of wine one evening, Erica shared a Classic Reading List from a friend of hers. I am sure there are many “must-read Classic Reading Lists” out there. But, in the spirit of “pick one and get reading”, I am using this one. I am starting with #26. It has always been on my list.

Maybe something on this list will strike your fancy. On this day of supposed ease, maybe there is an hour embedded for you to put your feet and get started. No matter your choice, may you find inspiration, stimulation and satisfaction. And may the Winter months pass easily with each page turned.

  1. Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevksy
  2. Brother’s Karamazov – Dostoyevsky
  3. Ulysses – Joyce
  4. Native Son – Richard Wright
  5. Passage to India  – E.M. Forester
  6. Of Human Bondage – Maugham
  7. Henderson the Rain God – Bellow
  8. 1984 – Orwell
  9. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  10. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald
  11.  Lord of the Flies – Golding
  12.  Lolita – Nabakov
  13.  The Sound and the Fury – Faulkner
  14.  Light in August – Faulkner
  15.  To the Lighthouse – Virginia Wolf
  16.  Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
  17.  Invisible Man  – Ralph Ellison
  18.  Pride and Prejudice – Austen
  19.  The Catcher in the Rye – Salinger
  20.  To Kill a Mockingbird –  Harper Lee
  21.  One Hundred Years of Solitude – Marquez
  22.   The Grapes of Wrath – Steinbeck
  23.   East of Eden – Steinbeck
  24.  Brave New World – Huxley
  25.  Madame Bovary -Flaubert
  26.  Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
  27.  Slaughterhouse Five – Vonnegut
  28.  In Cold Blood – Capote
  29. The Sun Also Rises – Hemingway
  30.  Sons and Lovers – Lawrence
  31.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – McCullers
  32.  Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  33.  An American Tragedy – Dreiser
  34.  Remembrance of Things Past – Proust
  35.  All the Pretty Horses – McCarthy
  36.   Dune – Herbert
  37.   Stranger in a Strange Land – Heinlein
  38.  Death Comes for the Archbishop – Cather
  39.  My Antonia – Cather
  40.  The Moviegoer – Percy
  41.  Ender’s Game – Card
  42.  The Alexandria Quartet – Durrell
  43.  Angle of Repose – Stegner
  44.  A Room with a View – Forster
  45.  Sun Also Rises  – Hemingway
  46.  The French Lieutenant’s Woman – Fowles
  47.  Native Son – Wright
  48.  Brideshead Revisted – Waugh
  49.  I, Claudius – Graves
  50.  White Noise – Delillo
  51.  Beloved – Morrison
  52.  The Remains of the Day – Ishiguro
  53.  So Long, See You Tomorrow – Maxwell
  54.  The Day of the Locust – West
  55. The Bell Jar – Plath
  56.  Babbitt – Lewis
  57.  Howard’s End – Forster
  58.   One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Kesey
  59.   The Color Purple – Walker
  60.  Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck
  61.   A Farewell to Arms – Hemingway
  62.   On the Road – Kerouac
  63.   The Call of the Wild – London
  64.   All the King’s Men – Warren
  65.   The Jungle – Sinclair
  66.   The Age of Innocence – Wharton
  67.   A Clockwork Orange – Burgess
  68.   A Good Man is hard to Find – O’Connor
  69.   Cat’s Cradle – Vonnegut
  70.   Look Homeward Angel – Wolfe
  71.  This Side of Paradise – Fitzgerald
  72.   Middlemarch – Eliot
  73.   Gone with the Wind
  74.  Catch 22 – Heller
  75.  The Lord of the Rings – Tolkien
  76.  A Clockwork Orange – Burgess
  77.   For Whom the Bell Tolls – Hemingway
  78.   Frankenstein – Shelley
  79.  The Big Sleep – Chandler
  80.  Go Tell it on the Mountain – Baldwin
  81.  Heart of Darkness – Conrad
  82.   Night – Wiesel
  83.   Rabbit Run – Updike
  84.   The Day of the Locust – West
  85.   Goodbye to all that – Graves
  86.   Pride and Prejudice – Austen
  87.  Jane Eyre – Bronte
  88. Wuthering Heights – Bronte
  89. The Stranger – Camus
  90. A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens
  91. A Mill on the Floss – Elliott
  92. The Good Soldier – Ford
  93. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Hardy
  94. The Scarlett Letter – Hawthorne
  95. The Iliad  – Homer
  96. The Odyssey – Homer
  97. Their Eyes were Watching God – Hurston
  98. Brave New World – Huxley
  99. The Metamorphosis – Kafka
  100. The Woman Warrior – Kingston
  101. Magic Mountain – Mann
  102. Moby Dick – Melville
  103. All Quiet on the Western Front – Remarque
  104. The Crying of Lot 49 – Pynchon
  105. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Solzhenitsyn
  106. War and Peace – Tolstoy
  107. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Twain
  108. Candide – Voltaire
  109. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Wilde
  110. Charlotte’s Web – White
  111. The Old Man and the Sea – Hemingway
  112. Schindler’s List – Kenealy
  113. Mrs. Dalloway – Woolf
  114. Jazz – Morrison
  115. Cat’s Cradle – Vonnegut
  116. The Wings of the Dove – James
  117. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Adam
  118. Naked Lunch – Burroughs
  119. The War of the Words – Wells
  120. The Naked and the Dead – Mailer
  121. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Stein
  122. The Wind in the Willows – Grahame
  123. Dead Souls – Gogol
  124. Great Expectations – Dickens
  125. Cry the Beloved Country – Paton
  126. The Man and His Servant – Tolstoy
  127. The Lover – Duras
  128. Ethan Frome – Wharton


 What will you MindFULLY choose to read this season? Let us know!