Category Archives: Uncategorized

TV-Free January Challenge: The Results

When I told a friend of mine that I would not be watching TV in January, her response was, “you picked one of the longest, coldest, darkest months of the year to go without television???”

I had to admit when she put it that way I was a little nervous I might not get through the whole month but I did with one exception.  I found out that my favorite vintage TV show was back on the air.  So, I allowed myself one hour a week.  I still call that a success.

So, what happened when I stopped watching TV?  For starters, I read more.  I finished four books, started two more and listened to a lengthy audiobook.  I was very pleased as reading again was one of my goals when I started this little experiment.

Another aspiration was to sleep more.  The first night I did but then it got more challenging again.  My insomnia not only thundered back, it brought a friend- an ear worm named Mr Jones.  During the first week, I heard the catchy Counting Crows song and it stayed with me for the rest of the month.  Every quiet moment and especially between 1AM and 4AM that song plagued me.  It felt like I would never get it out of my head.  (The antidote turned out to be Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Everybody Wang Chung Tonight)  Who would have guessed that?)

My suspicion is that without the distraction TV normally provides my brain, my “monkey mind” (as meditators like to call it) was going into overdrive to deal with the change.  Our brains don’t like change and we are hard-wired to resist it.  It’s a well-intentioned effort by our brains to keep us safe.  Familiarity is good.  Change is scary to our brains because we don’t know what is going to happen.  Even something seemingly insignificant like not watching television can have an impact if it is departure from the norm.

My brain may have been on to something because without the mind-numbing diversion of television, I started to become very aware of how tired I have been for a very long time.  Chronic Fatigue is not a new thing for me but I have learned a lot over the decades on how to deal with it.  I realized during this challenge that I had stopped doing things that helped and started doing things that didn’t.  One example is my diet had become less than stellar.

I have remained a vegetarian for over 20 years and dairy-free for over 10 but I had started eating eggs again a little over a year ago.  Worse than that, I was relying too often on processed foods like dairy-free cheese, margarine, bread and pasta.  Of course, I had become used to eating these things in front of the TV to boot.  Now, I am preparing food mostly from scratch again and including lots of fruit, salads, veggies, nuts and seeds.  Eggs are off the menu again.  I am starting to feel better and… (drum roll) SLEEP BETTER!

I have one caveat to share before I wrap this post up.  I noticed that when I stopped watching TV that my internet time increased.  I was watching a lot of Youtube videos. Youtube is a good resource when you want to learn about something you are thinking about trying.  I realized though that I was swapping one screen for another.  I didn’t need to watch 20 videos on how to make Kombucha.  One or two would have sufficed.  Not to mention- I received The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz for Christmas.

Going TV-free for January turned out to be a really worthwhile challenge.  I am making changes as a result that are having a positive impact on my life. So, I decided to keep going to see what other improvements can be made.  What do you think would improve your life if you stopped doing it?

A Hard Goodbye

Last week, someone I have known for 30 years passed away. He was the father of a very dear friend.  This was not the first time a parent of a friend passed but in those other situations, I didn’t really know their parents. I may have been introduced to them once at an event and that was the sum total of our acquaintance.

Mr. Z was different.  He was more like family to me than a parent of a friend.  He was a kind and gentle soul.  He treated me like one of the family. I was warmly welcomed by him and Mrs. Z at holidays and other family events.  He never just gave me the perfunctory “hello, how are you?” greeting. He would hug me and ask me what seemed liked a billion questions.  He really cared about me and wanted to know that I was doing well.

When I got the call, I wasn’t exactly surprised. I knew his health had been deteriorating over the last 10 years, and more rapidly for the last six months,  but I still hadn’t let myself contemplate that the end of the road was near for him.

I believe in God. It is a comfort to me at a time such as this to know that Mr. Z is in a better place.  I realize his body had gotten tired and was no longer able to support him.  His passing was in many ways was a blessing. Yet, I still feel the pain and sorrow that comes with knowing that there will be no more hugs or questions. Having known Mr. Z for so long, it felt like he would always be there. I realize that’s not a logical thought but that’s the way I felt.

Hard goodbyes like Mr. Z remind me of how fragile life can be.  We get so caught up in the small stuff of life, we forget (or ignore) the fact that no one gets out alive.  I am very aware at the moment of how vulnerable we all are. I think the best way to honor Mr. Z’s life is not to fear death but to embrace life instead by celebrating and being grateful for the opportunities to have known people like him.

When Something Goes Wrong in The Best Possible Way

My tire pressure light had been coming on and then going out for over a year.  I mentioned it to my mechanic whenever I got an oil change or inspection, then he would check the pressure and send me on my way.

So, when I was driving home recently and it came on, I wasn’t surprised.  However, this time it was accompanied by a familiar thwop thwop thwop noise.  I had a flat and started praying I made it to somewhere that I could safely pull over before it completely deflated. I made it to a gas station and called Triple A.

The phone attendant was very nice but my heart dropped a little when she said it would take 40 minutes to an hour for someone to get to me.  I busied myself with getting all the crap out that I had stored in the hatchback.  I had barely finished when a van pulled up next to me.  It had been less than 10 minutes but sure enough, my help had arrived!  Matt had the donut on and my deflated tire in the back in what seemed like no time at all.

I asked him if I could drive on the donut long enough to pick up ICE MELT on my way home.  He smiled and explained that the donut is a 50/50 tire.  “As long as you don’t drive over 50 miles an hour or for more than 50 miles, you will be fine.”  I thanked him and we were both on our perspective ways.

While I was on my way to the Big Box store to get the ICE MELT, I noticed that the bay was open at MAAVIS tire.  It was almost 6PM and I figured they must be on the verge of closing.  It was worth a try though because I had an early meeting at work the next morning.   I went into the office, prepared to beg for mercy.  No groveling was necessary, however, as it turned out to be their late night.  What are the chances of getting a flat on MAAVIS’ late night? The guys let me leave the tire there while I went to pick up the ICE MELT.  Shortly after I returned, my tire was patched and I was on my way.

I actually made it home in time to stop at the library before it closed and return an overdue book. I raced in literally as they were about to lock the door.  The woman at the circulation desk said she couldn’t take it because she already shut the machine off. Then another woman at the children’s desk said she could sign it in for me.

Getting a flat tire is not exactly fun but I felt such gratitude for everything that transpired afterward.  I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome under the circumstances.  It was almost magical.

Have Extra Time? Do Something Meaningful.

I woke up at 4 AM. For me, this was a good thing. As an often insomniac, I frequently wake up between 2:00 AM and 2:45 AM and then spend three hours trying to go back to sleep, only to doze off for 15 minutes or so before I need to get up.

So, waking up at 4 AM and getting the better part of seven hours of sleep was like winning a little lottery this morning. Having some quiet time to myself while the rest of the world is still sleeping felt like quite a treat.  How best to savor it?

I wrote for over an hour.  I have a new book idea and I wanted to start getting it down.  So, it was the perfect time to do it. Will it be a best-seller or get published for that matter… I don’t know.  I do know that it was time better spent than on watching TV or clicking around social media.  How you start the day is important.  It can set the tone for the rest of the day.  So, it’s the best time to do what matters the most to you.



We Forget We Are All The Same

I was watching Accidental Courtesy last night.  It’s a documentary about Daryl Davis, a black musician who befriends Ku Klux Klan members in his spare time.

I admired Davis for having the courage and open-heartedness to reach out to people who are determined to be his enemy because of his skin color.  Over the years, Davis has won over many white supremacists through his willingness to hear them and extend his hand in friendship.  Dozens of high-ranking former Klan members have even given Davis their robes when they left the KKK.  It was heartening to see someone succeeding at making the world a better place.

Near the end of the film, the mood shifted a bit when this peaceful, generous man was forced to defend himself by Kwame Rose of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Rose accused Davis of wasting his time with white supremacists when he could have been doing more to help his own people.  A heated exchange ensued and Rose stormed off, unwilling to listen Davis’ point of view.  It was painful to watch a young man be so disrespectful to this wonderful pacifist.  It was also difficult to see Davis lose his cool a little with Rose, when he manages to have civil dialogues with people who express deeply disturbing white supremacist views.

It seems to me that there is room for more than one approach when comes to dealing with hate and injustice.  Although, things will always break down when we stop talking to each other, deciding that our way is the only way.

Want to Save Money, Lose weight and Be Healthier? Eat Cabbage!

Until recently, whenever I thought about cabbage I would remember the unwelcome smell that permeated the hallway of my grandmother’s building in Far Rockaway, NY. It would make my nose wrinkle and I couldn’t wait to get into her apartment which always seemed to smell like fresh baked dinner rolls or something equally delicious.

So, I quite surprised myself when I picked up a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  I did it for two reasons: 1. I know how nutritious it is.  2.  It was only $2.  WIN, WIN!

I pondered what to do with it on the way home.  Then I surprised myself again by slapping the steering wheel and declaring out loud, “I am going to make sauerkraut!”  I have no idea where the thought came from since I never made it before and quite frankly… I never even really thought about sauerkraut being comprised of cabbage.  The same goes for coleslaw (which I also decided to make.)

How hard could it be?  It turns out, not hard at all.  It became clear after some quick research that sauerkraut is merely cabbage+salt+time.  I chopped the cabbage as thin as I could by hand, threw in a few tablespoons of kosher salt and began to massage it.  I found myself wondering how many of my German ancestors must have done the very thing I was doing at that moment.  It felt so natural working the salt into the cabbage until the juices flowed out.  After about 10 minutes, I decided I created enough of a brine to jar it up.  You want there to be enough liquid to fully submerge the kraut.  I used an onion* half to weigh it down in the jar.  After that, I topped the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band.  I found this set-up very effective for keeping the oxygen out while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape.  Then I set the jar in a dark cabinet in the basement, the only place that might come close to maintaining the ideal temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees.

How does this make sauerkraut?  The short answer is that cabbage naturally carries bacteria like lactobacilli which helps kick off lactic acid fermentation.  The salt preserves the cabbage to keep it from rotting while fermentation takes place.  There is a lot of debate about the proper amount of time to allow sauerkraut to ferment, anywhere from three days to six months.  I found the most consensus that around three weeks is enough time.  The idea is to allow the sauerkraut to ferment long enough to produce a goodly amount of probiotic bacteria. Then after that it’s just about taste.

However, if you are like me and you can’t wait that long or if the average temp is above 75 degrees then two weeks is long enough.  Also, keep in mind, the sauerkraut will continue to ferment in the fridge.  It will just happen much more slowly below 65 degrees.

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle... what more could you ask for?

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle… what more could you ask for?

I have to tell you that homemade sauerkraut is DELICIOUS!  It is so much better than store-bought. I am not sure I could eat the canned stuff ever again.  Give it a try if you like sauerkraut.  You have nothing to lose.  I paid two dollars for a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  (I noticed they are $1.29 at the supermarket.)  That one head netted me 16 ounces of sauerkraut and eight cups of coleslaw.  I call that VERY budget-friendly!

I will get more into the nutritional and weight loss benefits of cabbage in my next post, as well as share the coleslaw recipe I concocted.

Many Blessings,


*I got the onion as a weight idea from the Dr Axe website:

Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.


Tragedy, Hope and Making Sense of Racial Relations through Personal Relationships

I have shed a lot of tears over the last few days.  The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five Dallas police officers: Lorne Ehrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thomspon and Patrick Zamarippa all seemed so senseless to me.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.

It’s painful thinking about a four-year-old girl witnessing a police officer killing the man who had been a father to her, while her mother, the man’s fiancée, stoically and respectfully taped it.  Another man was shot and killed while already pinned down to the ground.  An officer who had just been married two weeks ago got gunned down while doing his job, protecting peaceful protestors of, ironically, police violence.  It’s made me very sad and I don’t even personally know any of these people.  I also have been feeling the complete overwhelm of not knowing how on earth to help make things better.

I reached out to my friend Lorna (after not having heard from me in goodness knows how long) without any “Hi, how are you?” preamble, I texted her about how I was feeling.  She responded in her usual kind, compassionate way.  I could practically hear her elegant Jamaican accent while I was reading her responses.

Me: Lorna, I’m so sad today about all the killing that has been going on this week.  I am sad for the families of the two black men who were shot by police, as well as, the families of the cops shot in Dallas.  All these precious lives lost senselessly.  I have no idea how to help make things better.

Lorna: Cindy, thanks for reaching out and I do appreciate your thoughts.  There is so much good to celebrate and I cherish you, who have the guts to see beyond color or race! Blame can be passed around but we must now stop to listen!! Violence is not the answer!!  But what is?  Thanks Cindy.  Love you much.  Smile-hope lives.

Me: I am so glad I know you.  You never made me feel like a “white” friend but just a friend.

Lorna: I loved you the day you walked into ACS, then CWA (where we both worked over 20 years ago.) White or black, you are just a great person!!

Me: Thanks! 🙂 Right back at ya! (I’m not as eloquent in real time as Lorna.)

I think good racial relations are about personal relationships.  To go a step further, it’s not about race at all; it’s about treating everyone you encounter with kindness, respect and compassion.

My friend Jodi got it right with this response to a post I had put up on social media about how helpless I felt after the tragedies of the last several days:

“Some people are “activists” but my style is to just try to live with love, acceptance & tolerance to the best of my ability. I work in a tourist town and I meet all kinds of people, from everywhere & I try to enjoy them all and make them feel welcome. I always remember the lesson I learned  when I lived out of the country for a couple of years – when you met an American – it didn’t matter their race, religion, sex, anything it was an American -and I just wanted to hug them! If we could maybe live on another planet for a while – maybe we would appreciate [each other] whenever we see another human being or earth animal. I live in hope of world peace, but sometimes when I think of the thousands of years humans have been warring and fighting each other – it’s rather discouraging. But there is always HOPE.”

Jodi’s wisdom reminds me of Lorna.  We are more alike than we are different.  When we focus on what we all have in common while respecting and eventually appreciating our differences, we can all get along and even cherish one another. “Smile – Hope lives.”

Many Blessings,


Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.



Must Presidential Hopefuls Stoop To Conquer Now?

I have never liked watching political debates. I found them annoying in past elections because candidates would rarely offer straight answers and found ways to attack their opponents on issues that weren’t even relevant to the question being asked. After I watched the first GOP debate last year, I quickly became disgusted watching and, unfortunately, listening to Donald J. Trump insult not only his opponents but moderators as well.

I stopped watching the debates after that and chose instead to seek out the highlights afterward from various news sources. After reading articles and watching clips of Thursday night’s debate, it seems clear that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have chosen to join Trump in helping to degenerate these debates into little more than rank out sessions with the moderators acting as playground monitors. I was hard-pressed to find news content that actually focused on discussions about policies and what plans these guys would execute if they actually got into office.

What’s next? Televised “Yo Mama”-style diss sessions? Can we expect to hear things like, “Yo mama is so ugly if you became president, other countries would nuke the US, just so they don’t have to look at her.” It doesn’t seem that far-fetched compared to what these candidates are saying to and about each other. Donald J. Trump already thinks it is perfectly acceptable to refer to people as morons and losers. Marco Rubio focused a campaign speech yesterday on describing Trump getting his sweat mustache powdered during a commercial break and suggesting he may have requested a full-length mirror to “make sure his pants weren’t wet.”

I do find it somewhat ironic that Trump and Chris Christie referred to these new low blows coming from Rubio as desperate attempts to bolster a failing campaign. Considering Trump has built his entire campaign by continually showering these types of insulting remarks on his opponents, the media and anyone else he decided that he didn’t like when he had a microphone handy; what is it called in his case if not desperation? Is a lack of decorum and decency more appropriate coming from Trump because he is already a reality star?

Personally, I don’t like it coming from anyone, least of all, someone who may be the next recognized leader of the United States of America. Have we gotten so used to the horrific behavior of reality TV personalities that we not only find it acceptable but we think it is suitable and even preferred in a presidential candidate? The idea that it has somehow become necessary to stoop to Trump’s schoolyard style of attack in order to gain the attention of American citizens is utterly appalling and embarrassing.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton seem to be able to run lively and news-worthy campaigns without resorting to childish and nasty personal attacks. Why can’t the republicans? Donald J. Trump appears to be the reason. Perhaps it is not him so much as it is his marketing strategy. His team has tapped into an ugly little truth about our viewing habits. We want to be entertained all the time. Apparently, we are willing to sacrifice being informed for the sake of sating our inexhaustible desire to be constantly amused. Are we willing to deal with the consequences?


Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.




Holy No Smoke: Why Is the Smoke Detector Going Off?

I am used to the smoke detector going off while I am cooking, particularly if I am frying something… even though nothing is burning.  I automatically grab the broom handle, hit the “silence” button and open a window.

Yesterday morning though it went off for NO detectable reason.  I was just sitting at the computer when it began blaring.  “FIRE! FIRE!” Chauncy, my Havanese, awoke from his snooze and began his panicked, “I am upset!  I am excited! I don’t know why! Help me!” keening, adding to the din.  I grabbed the handle and silenced the confused instrument; picked up Chauncy and began to check every room in the house just to make sure all was well.  It was.

As soon as I sat back down, the smoke alarm went off again.  I quickly silenced it again. Then I began searching the internet for a smoke-free reason, it could be going off. Dust!  Turns out, if dust happens to collect on your smoke detector’s sensor, it can cause it to go off.  The solution was to vacuum it gently with a brush attachment.  It was too early to find the brush attachment and I was feeling anything but gentle toward the smoke alarm at that point but I did vacuum it.  It appears to have worked.

I wanted to share this bit of info. for you to tuck away, just in case your smoke alarm goes off at 6AM, or an even ungodlier hour for no apparent reason. … You’re welcome!

Many blessings to all,


Please follow me on Twitter.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.