insights: why hello, spring

The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.

~Julian Grenfell

insights: it's all in the perspective

Twenty minutes ago I was standing in the market wet and cold from dashing inside through hail the size of blueberries. As I was looking at organic turkey I got a text  from my sister-in-law, Sue, of a picture of her girls on vacation at their grandmother's house playing on the beach. "Lovely" I texted her back "It's 37 degrees here."

I was grouchy and wet to the bone. At the register the bagger asked paper or plastic and would I like some help out to the car?

An aside:

Here's something I discovered when we moved here from the east coast: In Connecticut at the market (Stop & Shop, Big Y, Whole Foods, it didn't matter) you bagged your own groceries and took them out to your car. Here in Seattle, no one bags their own groceries. You slide your payment card through and wait for the clerk to scan your items and then he bags them for you. If we waited for our groceries to be bagged in New England, you got the stink eye from  the cashier i.e. "What? You can't help bag your own groceries?!" And no one offered to take your cart to your car for you. It was assumed that if you can get yourself to the market then you are quite capable of wheeling your own cart to your car. I still find it odd when I have one bag or ten that the bagger asks "Miss, do you want help out with this?"

Which is just what he asked me this morning. I said "It's hailing out. Look" as I pointed to the white balls falling from the sky.

"Nooooooo. I love this. I'll go out with you. Let's go." He started wheeling my cart outside.

I asked him if he's a native. "Yes," this darling eighteen-year-old or so kid said "It's so great isn't it?!" (Imagine a surfer dude accent, but no tan or surfboard.)

We got out in the rain/hail and he was stoked. I burrowed my head down into my collar and looked over at him. He had raised his face to the sky.

"Man, this summer's gonna be so lush, so green, you know?" He was smiling as he loaded my groceries into the front passenger seat.

He nodded at the car (a Beetle convertible) "Oh, wow, you must love this car." I was thinking "Yes, when it's sunny out like 4 days a year when I can put the top down."

Then as he put his hand on the canvas convertible top "It's so cool that you can hear the rain on the top. It must sound AMAZING."

Perspective, hunh?

I'm still amazed at the people God/the universe pops into your life at exactly the right time.

sublime: the healthiest food in a box--ever

Sometime during the night the box was left on our front step. They said it would arrive (quietly!) before 6am and it did!

The package was from Full Circle Farm, a local certified organic farm that delivers a box of  rainbow colored fruits and vegetables right to your home.

Last Sunday when I stumbled upon a farmer's market (yes, I realize this is my third post in a row that mentions farmer's markets!) after petting the baby goats and debated owning Americana chickens with the chicken lady I stopped by the Full Circle Farm booth to pick up some greens for dinner. That's when I discovered that this farm will deliver certified organic produce right to your door. On display was a BIG  box of beautiful, vibrant, lush, earthy vegetables.

I wanted in.

Typically each week at Whole Foods or The Metropolitan Market my bags are filled mainly with fruits and vegetables-- the perfect avocado, the orangest carrot, the fluffiest romaine. This is what has helped me lose 100 pounds since last June. While talking with, Kris, the Full Circle Farm guy,  I learned that they offer a year-round organic produce delivery service. I asked if the produce came from local farms and he said yes but they also partner with other organic farms because otherwise here in rainy, cool Seattle we would be getting deliveries of just kale and potatoes in the winter.  There is also an option to add items to our delivery like small batch artisan cheeses, organic eggs from free range chickens (we even know the farm these eggs are from!), free-trade coffee and fresh pasta made locally from heirloom wheat. There are different size boxes to choose from as well as weekly or bi-weekly options. I signed up on the spot (Part of my new attitude of Why Not?! It's been a big week for that!) As I was filling out the subscription form, there was a place to check out what we didn't want. The first thing I checked off was brussel sprouts. I did NOT want those. Kris saw what I was doing and said "No, no! Brussel sprouts are GREAT!"

"No, no they're not," I replied. I remember my mother serving brussel sprouts boiled in milk when I was a kid. Bad memory.

"Please just try our brussel sprouts. I'll give you my favorite recipe. Just try it once and if you still don't like it, you don't have to order them again. OK?!"

I studied him for a moment. "Ok, I said. One time but I'm not budging on okra or rutabegas."

I brought the box into the kitchen. Packaged carefully inside were lush, vibrant fruits, vegetables and eggs. I am irritatingly organized and I loved the fact that included was a list of what we were receiving that week (I had no idea what one of the green, leafy vegetables was) as well as a newsletter that included recipes and a feature on a local farm.

For $37 every other week, we have a box of health delivered on Thursday mornings. You know how you feel good just walking into Whole Foods? Now imagine feeling that way in your kitchen. I unloaded each item including several small paper bags filled with mushrooms and sugar snap peas. I started snacking on sugar snap peas. I've never snacked on sugar snap peas. I felt happy because not only were we doing something healthy for ourselves but we were also supporting organic farming and local farmers. This is something to feel good about.

This is what we received this week:

As I was unpacking our box I thought about how the universe comes together for you--serendipity, like the fact that I decided to take an Italian class last week and there just happened to be one starting in 4 days at the local college.

That day that I discovered Full Circle Farm at the University Village farmer's market I had just run to Barnes & Noble for some books including Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet" which is all about eating organic and vegan. Lately I am aware of coincidences. I think it's pretty wild that I buy a book about eating vegan and moments later at a special farmer's market event (that I have never seen at the mall before) I come across Full Circle Farm and their organic produce delivery program. I just love when life comes together likes this. It makes me feel like I am on the right path.

As I tasted the tangy tangelo, and the greenness of the sugar snap peas I felt like I was delivering happy nutrients right to every cell of my body. I envisioned the farmer planting the seeds and the rain dappling the leaves and the hardworking men and women who picked each one of these fruits and vegetables. I felt good about this choice.

If you are interested in organic produce delivery click here to discover a consumer supported agriculture farm in your area.

And did you notice? No brussel sprouts in this order. I had the fleeting thought that half the box might be this vegetable courtesy of Kris. I promise, though, that when we do get brussel sprouts I will try them and include Kris's recipe here.

Here's to one very life-changing week.

insights: from the principessa

On a sunny, bright blue day in May, I stood on the bluff  in the small Italian town of Ventimiglia with my toes just over the edge of the cliff overlooking the aquamarine Mediterranean Sea. After covering the Cannes Film Festival for two weeks I had a free day and took the scenic train from the town of Cannes to Monaco (where I, along with several Monegasques lit candles in the small stone Saint Devote chapel) and then on to this ancient, extraordinary rustic Italian town just over the border from France.

It was the kind of day you carry with you your entire life. When I got off the train I smelled the salty, midnight blooming jasmine-filled air of this town on the sea. I lucked out in that there was a farmer's market that day. I walked towards the music.

And it was on that day that I enjoyed the best meal I have ever had.

I found a small trattoria with an outdoor patio. Sitting under olive and lime trees I stared out at the sea sipping a fresh squeezed limeade. The cameriere brought me a Caprese sandwich- a fresh warm panino with a thick cool, creamy slice of mozzarella cheese, a slice of bright red heirloom pomodoro piled high with bright green basilico leaves seasoned with olio and aceto.

I almost  cried from the Happy of the moment. Blue sky, warm sun, azure sea to my left and the cathedral ruins on the hills to my right. This moment stuck in my head as one of the happiest moments in my life.

Last week when I was going through an epiphany I thought of this beautiful day in Italy and The Happy Girl Experiment. Then to keep my head busy so I would stop thinking of the possible bad news from my doctor, I watched "Eat Pray Love" again and the scenes in Italy just made me so happy  as I watched Julia Roberts say Attraversiamo over and over again during a dinner scene (35 minutes into the movie. In fact I am watching this film as I write this now!)  In my newfound "Let's go for it!" attitude I decided to do something about this memory.   I was going to learn the language. I went online and found a class was starting at a local college in just a couple days. (Serendipity, hunh?) Without giving myself time to think about "Should I do this? I have no reason to take an Italian class. Do I have time to take this class?" I called and registered.

Yesterday was my first day of school. I was so excited. The lovely Sardinian Professoressa breezed in. "Ciao! Ciao!" she said as she  commandeered the room with her energy. After an introduction she said "I am handing out these placards. Please write your name and title on the card that will sit on your desk. Be whatever you'd like! I like being referred to as 'Your Majesty'" she giggled.

I like her sense of humor. I thought "Love her! Let's have some fun" so this is what I wrote on my placard:

I thought "OK, she's your majesty, I'll be a Principessa!" When we had all propped our name placards on our desk we looked around at everyone else's names. This is when I saw that my classmates used the titles Singor and Signora and their names. There was no time to change my placard especially since I wrote Principessa Taylor on one side and Principessa Johnson on the other side once the Professoressa told us that in Italy it is custom to use someone's last name , not their first name.

So basically I goofed twice. I wondered if my Italian dictionary translated the word "Oops!"

The first impression my fellow classmates had was of me thinking of myself as an Italian Princess. Wonderful.

I got home and told my husband I now have the language skills of an Italian three-year-old. I knew how to say my name and my ABC's in Italian. Bonus: I learned how to make a faux pas in Italian as well!

I was beating myself up yesterday afternoon thinking "Geez, my fellow classmates must think I am an idiot." Then I thought "chill." What did I learn about Happy last week?  LIFE IS AMAZING, SAVOR EVERY MOMENT, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT LIFE HAS TO OFFER. So I let it go and I thought "Clearly my sense of fun and my sense of humor are coming back. These are good steps to getting my Happy back, right?!" I decided next week I will display my Principessa Taylor placard just as it is. Why? Because seeing what I wrote on that placard reminded me that my sense of fun is still intact and I am indeed starting to get my Happy back.  I felt a little lighter and even a little bit of that bliss I experienced that May day in Ventimiglio.

Oh, and here's a funny Italian phrase I found this morning when I was doing my homework. I wonder why on earth one might need this phrase?!
Sono vecchio. Sei antipatico. ("I am old. You are unpleasant")
Ciao Ciao!

entertainme: the whimsy of a discovery

Yesterday afternoon I stopped for a couple books at Barnes & Noble. My goal was to run in and out but going along with this whole new "Why not?/ Say yes!" attitude I am embracing, I saw a sign that said 'event parking." It was drizzling (of course. It's Seattle) but I wandered over to see what the event was and I discovered a farmer's market in the middle of the University Village parking lot. I saw food stands (hot dogs) and fresh vegetables (the first radishes of the season were out!), local organic cheese producers and then I spotted a crowd.

A big crowd had gathered  around two puppies. It made sense that they were puppies because the SPCA van was there with pets for adoption. I got close and then I saw that they weren't puppies at all but baby goats, baby La Mancha goats. I was fascinated, thus the shaking video you're about to see.

Loved the goats. Everyone loved these baby goats. They may as well have been iridescent fairies handing out wishes. People were mesmerized. Especially since one of the goats had a cast on its little front leg (and in case you're wondering the cast didn't seem to bother this kid one iota.)

I fell in love with these frolicking goats and talked with the breeder. She said that they are incredibly smart and that they make great pets in the suburbs. I wondered how our puppy would feel about this. Then I saw the baby chicks. I fell in love. Again. And I wasn't alone. Adults (with no kids!) stood in line to hold the chicks and pet the chicken. I talked with the chicken lady about her chickens and I mentioned I would like Aracuna chickens which lay groovy aqua blue eggs. She told me her Americana chickens are also called Easter Egg Chickens because they can lay pink, green and blue eggs. I couldn't stand it. I came thisclose to bringing home two baby goats and three baby chicks (the chicken lady said you should have at least three chickens because they like to be in packs).

After I tore myself away from the baby goats and chickens I texted my husband.

Here is how it went:

Text 1 Happy Girl to husband: Guess what we're getting?

Then I texted him this picture:

Text 2: Oh, and are you OK with 3 of these?

Followed by this picture:

I called my sister-in-law Sue this afternoon and said "What do you think? Your brother's not really into the idea. Do you think I'm crazy?"

Sue laughed and said "I know what you're thinking. You're imagining going out to the henhouse on a sunny day in your frock and gathering your colorful eggs with flowers weaved into your hair."

"Yes," I said quite serious. "That is exactly what I am thinking."

Let's just say we're in the discussion stage of becoming gentlemen farmers.

The point is that last week wasn't lost on me. Should we have chickens? Maybe. Should we grow strawberries. Sure, why not. Should we savor every bit of every day and stretch our boundaries, yes,  yes we should. You never know what could be waiting for you around the corner.

insights: the reprieve

I was sitting on the edge of an exam table in a doctor’s office, wearing a little cotton johnny and my bare feet cold against the stainless steel. I held my breath and waited for the doctor to come in. I was nervous.  About a month earlier I had the feeling that I needed to see my dermatologist. It started as a little voice that said “You should call and get a body check.” I ignored it. The voice got louder until I had no choice so I picked up the phone and made an appointment for the first available slot 3 weeks away. Still I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I broke down and called last week and said “Look, I feel like something is wrong. Can you get me in any earlier?” Luckily, the receptionist took pity on me and got me in on Monday. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was  very wrong.

Dr. Kim came in. I love her. The appointment was going well. Dr. Kim congratulated me on my weight loss and wished me luck on my quest to be a mom. We were laughing as she looked over my body from head to toe. I stopped worrying until she got to a point on my back when she said to the technician “We’re taking this off.” I started to sweat. I felt my face get red. My heart started beating fast. I felt so hot like I was going to throw up.

“How how bad is it?” I asked.

Dr. Kim said “Don’t worry until I tell you to worry.”

“I am a worrier by nature,” I said.

“I know,” Dr. Kim said as she numbed the area and started cutting. I started praying the Hail Mary once, twice, four times. She told me the pathology results would be ready in a week. I wondered how I could wait a week for the results.

I don’t remember driving home. I called my husband to tell him they found something weird. I called Kay, the lovely woman in charge of the prayer chain at my church. I called Sr. Mary Magdalene at a convent in my hometown in Massachusetts. I asked them to pray for me, to pray that the pathology would be negative.

I got the call just a few hours ago.

In the moment between seeing Dr. Kim’s number pop up on my cell phone and hearing her voice, time stopped. I remember thinking “This is weird how time is going so slow” and I realized my life as I knew it could change in just seconds.

“It’s not cancer,” Dr. Kim said “But we want to go in and remove more of the area. It’s wonky and as a preventative measure I want to take more of the area off so we don’t have to worry about it turning into something bad. OK?”

“OK,” I said. We scheduled surgery for next Tuesday.

Before we hung up she said again “It’s not cancer, OK. On a scale of worry from 1 to 10 this is a 1, OK?”

I worry. It is what I do. I don’t want to be this way but I am. I obsess and I know I will obsess until Tuesday afternoon, until she tells me I am OK and there is nothing to worry about. I hung up with her and I tried to remember everything she said to me. I tried calling my husband but I just stared at the screen on my phone. I couldn’t remember his number. I couldn’t remember his name. I just kept thinking that I prayed so hard and I wanted it to be nothing but yet here I was scheduled for surgery next week.