I lived in Los Angeles for nearly 2 years, about 11 years ago. It was a long-time dream of mine to live out there in California and work in computer graphics on a Special Effects team for movies. I did live there, and I did work in computer graphics, but I never made it to get on a Spec. FX team, nor did I move up to Skywalker Ranch not far from San Francisco, like I’d originally hoped. I lived about 7 hours south of San Francisco actually, in Long Beach. I left my car in Wisconsin, and my first move out of my parents’ house, I moved 2,300 miles across the country…

…with a moving truck, through the mountainous Rockies, through sleet and snow,

…through Vegas,

…back in September 1999.

…when I moved then back to Wisconsin almost instantly almost 2 years later due to a fire (I’m calling it a “fire” because that’s what trusted friends called it at the time… it was not a physical fire, but I was in an abusive relationship, and there was a turning point), I left California in a matter of 5 days flat. Even my company helped support me due to safety issues and made sure I had a job back in Wisconsin when I arrived back. One day I was in Belmont Shore, 3 blocks from the beach, where the sun always shone and the temperature never dropped below 45 degrees even on the coldest winter day. The next day I was in Bel Aire with a suitcase catching the first plane back to Wisconsin… During my last 5 days I moved from Long Beach downtown staying at work during the night and in Belmont Shore at my apartment to pack during the day, to Lakewood, to Bel Aire… in hopes to confuse my attacker and get myself out as quickly as possible. I haven’t written about the story since it happened, so this is the first time.

The reason I’ve mentioned it is because when I got back to Wisconsin I became thoroughly depressed. The job wasn’t the same, my work friends were still in California, the weather was horrid… and I had to move back in with my folks, from having lived in my own apartment in Belmont Shore, a beautiful little town on the outskirts of Long Beach, next to a place called Naples, which had gondolas running through a man-made waterway. There were no more palm trees. There was no more warm sunshine every day. No more ocean to gaze out on. But, also no insane man trying to kill me… so, I was “home” I guess… but miserable all the same back in dreary Milwaukee.

I did eventually move on, but when I initially got off of that plane coming back to Wisconsin I’d made it clear I meant to be back in California with in 6 months… or that I’d move to China next, and it was very tempting when I saw an international flight board leaving for China from LAX near my terminal back to Wisconsin, to attempt to switch flights… but, here I was… back on the ice planet of Wisconsin. And I knew, it was my destiny.

Well, It is now 2011. In late 2010 I realized I’d hit the mark past a decade since I’d been down the street I lived on in Belmont Shore and my first apartment, which was in downtown Long Beach. I missed everything still. And I’d promised myself to return, but never lived up to it. Ok, so, I made it a New Year’s resolution to return. And today, I am a week away from that mark and everything stands against me… timing, weather, finances… but I’m going. Meanwhile I’m in the middle of a move to another residence in SouthEastern Wiscosnin, and am amidst great trials at work. But, this was the plan. And unless girls on maternity leave, leave earlier than predicted at work for their time off, I intend to be back on the street I lived on for a few short days–in a matter of only a few short days.

There is one thing in my favor though… just as the weather turned not be against my favor when I left Calfiornia for Wisconsin back in 2001, next week the weather in Long Beach and Laguna is predicted to warm up another 15 – 20 degrees and refrain from raining… so it will be in my favor. I will see old work friends. I will hit up some old favorite spots. I will walk down the streets I lived and worked on. I will walk the way I walked when I lived out there–maybe even go whale watching as I did on a monthly basis out there 10+ years ago. And I will be going to Laguna Niguel to again touch the natural marshes Crystal Cove State Park where the coast line is filled with nature and beauty. Returning yet again to Wisconsin from here will also again be really hard. I can’t prepare myself for the return any better than I could the last time I left, but I can know that I have always followed my heart, followed my dreams, and lived up to my promises to myself. This will conclude just one more. I’ve always wanted to say good-bye to the streets I lived on. I didn’t have the chance then. I intend to do that now.

The eating of food is a basic necessity of life, and without it no one could live. What is eaten, however, and how it is prepared may change from one place to another, or from one time period to another. Traditional food cultures may be replaced with new ones. Changes may occur because of innovations in agriculture or industry, or from publicity. A new food habit will not only introduce new varieties to a particular population’s diet, but also may introduce changes in lifestyle. During the twentieth century, transitions have taken place in many parts of the world. What we eat and drink today and how we consume these foods is a reflection of the food transition in a changing modern world.

What we do in our daily lives also helps mold, or shape, our culture. Soft drinks and fast foods are both reflections of our modern lifestyle. These food habits have also contributed to a growing ‘pop culture’ which defines the popularly accepted trends of belief, pattern, and behavior within our society.

Before the nineteenth century, carbonated drinks were usually sold commercially as a tonic or medicine. It was not until fruit syrups, and then later artificial flavorings and other preparations, were added to the soda water that made soft drinks more popular. Soft drinks, as opposed to hard or alcoholic beverages, were sold in soda fountains which became more prevalent during the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This resulted in the rapid rise of neighborhood soda fountains which were located in drugstores all over the country, and became accepted as places for social gatherings.

The popularity of soda fountains coincided with the growing temperance movement which encouraged the use of soft drinks instead of hard drinks. Prohibition laws against alcohol were passed, particularly in the southern states, and women’s groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union supported the growth of soda fountains. Soon after World War I ended the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed that prohibited the manufacture and sale of hard liquors throughout the country. The 1920s was known as the prohibition era and, by the time the law was repealed in 1933, soda fountains and the drinking of soft drinks had become a well-established institution in the American way of life.

The relationship between soft drinks, soda fountains, and fast foods began with the rise of the first fast-food stands that began to appear during the 1920s. Its popularity grew until after World War II when the industry experienced explosive growth. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the tremendous growth in the American economy made the ownership of the family car possible for most middle class families. A major factor during this time was America’s love affair with the automobile, and with the construction of an entire new highway system these factors encouraged the development of new and ever more distant suburban communities. Middle class families began to move away from congested cities in search of a freer lifestyle in the country. This also encouraged the fast-food industry to help feed those who lived there, and drive-in, fast-food restaurants were able to meet the new demand.

Initially, fast-food chains catered to automobile owners in suburbia. The concept of a readily available food outlet reflected the American culture which was now centered in speed and efficiency. More and more people prized the quality of the food and its unique preparation. Fast food and soft drinks not only reflected America’s values, but also helped shape a new lifestyle.

However, quenching one’s thirst by drinking a Coke or Pepsi was not the only matter of consideration. Advertisements associated soft drinks with new tastes and status symbols. Drinking a certain beverage would make you feel young, athletic, and fun-loving, and manufacturers of these products spent large sums of money on advertising to help fashion these images.

The fast-food industry also targeted consumers who came to appreciate the whole new experience that included drive-thru facilities along with toys and movies that were available at the checkout counter. Advertisements often portrayed popular sports figures to encourage potential customers to take advantage of their services. The experience of eating at one of these facilities was a whole new way of life which was based on an intrusive and subtle ideology of consumerism.

From fried onion rings to double-sized and loaded cheeseburgers, fast food is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing food types. It is estimated that about half of all restaurant profits in the United States are now derived from the consumption of fast foods, and the industry continues to expand. Both here, and in many other countries of the world, it is radically changing the way people eat.

The eating of fast foods has become a significant part of the younger generation’s diet in the United States, and increasingly throughout the world. However, the nutritional value of these products is being questioned. Studies indicate that consumption of some of these foods may be related to an increasing health risk, especially in children. A particular hazard is the E-coli bacteria that meat products are susceptible to. Because of the long supply chain through which the fast-food industry operates, the handling and sourcing of meat is very hard to monitor.

The consumer buys fast food because it is cheap, quick, and heavily promoted, but its benefits are often deceptive. Foods that are eaten in the car, or at a desk, are replacing home-cooked meals that were once enjoyed with other family members or friends. Around the world, the more traditional meals and recipes are yielding to soft drinks, sodas, burgers, and other highly processed and standardized items. Many fast foods are fried which facilitates quick preparation. They are high in fat content and salt, and low in fiber, vitamins, and some minerals. This high level of consumption is fueling a global epidemic that may lead to obesity, and other more serious and chronic illnesses.

Customers may be enticed to eat more than their daily requirements with the ‘added value option’ that some fast-food restaurants offer their patrons. For a small additional charge, people can order a larger size of certain products. This adds considerably to the calorie intake along with the other factors. A typical meal from a fast-food restaurant containing a serving of fries and a cheeseburger amounts to approximately 1,000 calories. This is about half of the recommended daily allowance for the average person. However, a ‘supersized combo meal’ may provide a person’s entire daily recommended intake of calories, but it will probably include very few of the essential nutrients.

The consuming of fast foods may be equated with bad eating habits. An extra large portion of a certain item may seem like a real bargain, but such features add excessive amounts of empty calories to the daily diet. This is due mainly to the large portions that fast-food restaurants are accustomed to serving. The tendency is for people to enlarge their appetites by eating far beyond their required limit.

A new type of health problem has arisen in recent years known as the ‘portion distortion syndrome.’ Along with the ever-increasing size of fast-food portions, the average waistline of the American consumer has also grown. According to recent studies, more than half the people are now in a weight range that increases the risk of developing health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, cancer, type-2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Further, it is also reported that about one third of this number were considered to be overweight.

Part of the weight issue is linked to an increase in the size of the portion. With the gradual increase in the amount of food consumed, people have lost touch with reality and what should be considered a healthy amount of food to eat. During the last fifty years, North American portion sizes have increased dramatically without consumers even being aware of it. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports some interesting statistics. In 1955, an average order of French fries weighed 2.4 ounces, while today it has risen to 7.1 oz. In 1961, Americans consumed 2,883 calories per person per day. By the year 2000, it had risen to 3,817 calories. A muffin had 200 calories and weighed 1.5 oz. Now it is 5.0 oz. with 500 calories. A bagel used to be 3 inches in diameter with 140 calories. Today it is 6 inches with 350 calories. Many convenience stores now sell soft drinks in 64 oz. containers.

One well-known restaurant now offers a sandwich that is bun-free. It features two chicken filets in place of the buns, with two pieces of bacon and two slices of melted cheese inside, and a mayonnaise laden sauce spread over it. It contains 540 calories and has 32 grams of fat. People have become gradually accustomed to the larger size portions and eat more whether they need it or not.

More on our Changing Food

The other day I looked at some scantly-clad photos of myself taken by my wonderful boyfriend who loves me for who I am. They were taken on a day like any day since I’ve dropped several dress sizes, and have felt more confident about my overall appearance. When I saw those photos I wasn’t in denial, but in shock that instead of not looking toned (because the gym has gradually been helping me with that part), I still could so easily see that “my battle is not yet won” with fat itself–the fat that hangs around my torso–the kind that leads to Diabetes and Heard Disease… Oh! To feel defeated yet again after so much hard work!!! And the next day I really ate whatever I wanted–let me tell you… when you try so hard consistently and think you’ve finally beat the game and then see you are STUCK instead, it’s just the most frustrating feeling!!! I’ve been struggling to lose fat around my waist, and overall gradually return to a healthy/military weight, for about 10 years… having been a dancer for much of my life (both for pleasure and for a living), having gained the weight, lost it, gained it, lost it has been an embarrassing struggle. Many other dancers I’ve met throughout the years have not suffered the same battle of losing and gaining 40 lbs as quickly as every 6 months sometimes, and I’ve sometimes been so embarrassed about it that even if I ran into a former dancer I worked with, I deliberately tried to hide or shy away.

Diabetes. No, I don’t have it… yet. My great-aunts both died of complications with Diabetes. Cancer runs on both sides of my family—even my little sister had it and is in remission. My grandfather currently has it. And, most recently my own father was diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes II. My dad is convinced that we are all doomed to get it since we are offspring. I have been officially been challenged. I do believe, that my percentage chance of getting Diabetes II is higher than others whose family history does not have it. I also believe that diet and exercise can do amazing things when altered and looked at closely. And so, I’ve been put to the quick.

In the last 2 years I’ve dropped 38 lbs. It wasn’t a 6-month battle this time, but a 2-year battle… granted, I had held onto the heavier weight and fat longer prior to losing it too this time around. When my little sister got cancer, I switched to all organic, about 3 years ago… meaning, I switched to grocery shopping all organic. I still ate “whatever” out at others’ homes and restaurants… today I specifically only eat organic which are on the Top 10 Dirty Dozen. Some of those include: celery, apples, Chilean grapes, spinach, strawberries…

Lucky for me, I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition. When I was in high school one of my favorite late movie stars, River Phoenix, died of a drug overdose. It affected me so adversely that I really read into his lifestyle and habits. I learned he’d been a vegetarian, an animal-rights-activist, among other things… and I suddenly became therefore curious and began heading to the library on weekends studying vegetarianism. Within a year from then, I was a full-blown vegetarian (not vegan)… and battled with my old-fashioned-“eat-your-meat” family for the next 10 years… until I met my (ex)husband, who was carnivorous… and I felt the best way to sustain a working relationship was to cook and eat together. It was too hard to prepare separate meals all the time. Gradually I became what I call “a conscientious omnivore.” And then when my sister got cancer, I looked at my diet again more closely, so that the meats I bought were at least free-range and antibiotic-free… and that’s where it halted for a while. I was eating soba noodles with marinara in huge portions by suppertime, eating as many “healthy foods” as I could stomach—literally. I was so afraid of NOT getting my nutrients I overate… and I did that for years.

…and then, I hit my highest weight ever: 199. The day I got on that scale and saw how close I was to 200 lbs, I had a mixture of a revelation and inner fury… something HAD to change again, and majorly! By that time I had injured my hip, I had torn a muscle behind my right knee, I felt immobile, fat, irritated, joints ached, and yet, I had to wonder “WHY? I eat all organic! I eat HEALTHY complex carbs! What is the deal??” The deal? The deal was that complex carbs, what we thought was healthy to eat, are not necessarily being translated as “healthy” by our bodies… some of those are, and some of them aren’t.

Last year I was able to begin incorporating walks into my days at lunch time. Those 30 min walks 5 days/week helped me to lose 15 lbs. But, I hung around 185 then and plateaued.

Then, almost exactly 1 year ago today, I joined a gym, working on my joint health, working on stretching and elongating muscles that I’d torn in the past and have been unwilling to get surgery for to actually “fix.” I then began resistance-training and increasing my cardio too. A few months later I randomly found “livestrong.com” – a website dedicated to healthy living started by Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor… and began logging my calories and fitness… this was a breakthrough moment for me. Finally, I was able to manage my portion sizes. It has been written that 80% of Americans actually do NOT know the calories they are consuming or what they should be eating total for each day. This website offered me a free way to control my calories. And, I lost another 23 lbs this year for it. Around June or July, about 4 months ago, I plateaued again. I hit 161, would work back up to 165, go back to 161, work my way up again… it’s been a struggle. For the 3rd time now I hit 161 and for the life of me could STILL not hit a “healthy normal or military weight”, which at my height would be 158 max. I just couldn’t break the 60’s plateau. And, today, as I write this, I still stand at 161!!!

What I’ve been working on now though, is a Diabetic Diet. Temporarily. I want to see how this affects my overall health. I do believe, already having hit 161 my 3rd time, that it is making a difference. What I’ve learned is that as all carbs will turn into insulin (sugar) in our bodies, diabetics have major insulin problems. Most Americans don’t even know it and have insulin problems that will lead to insulin resistance. The Glycemic Index can illustrate which foods ingested will break down into glucose/insulin/sugar fastest in our bloods… what spikes our insulin, will hold our weight. That is what insulin is for… so, the less sugar, the less insulin spikes, and the more sensitive our bodies become to insulin again and don’t resist. This is my next step. And it’s incredible. I love potatoes and they are very nutritious for someone Hypothyroid like me (and Hypothyroidism is another battle of mine and also contributes to my slow metabolism), but they are very HIGH on the GI meter. Especially baked and mashed. So, where I used to have a large baked potato every week, I now substitute the most unlikely carb instead: a small bowl of noodles. Noodles!!! Wheat at best, but noodles, unless they were Soba, were not something I’ve allowed myself in AGES, so I am STOKED to actually get to eat NOODLES!!! YAY!!! And, if I want potatoes, they have to be boiled and New Potatoes, so their GI drops, and then I ought only eat a small amount. Bread. Even if it’s 100% whole wheat… is out unless it’s pumpernickle or something really grainy. Not ok otherwise. No bagels. No fluffy bread. And at a restaurant that’s the hardest thing–you’re starving, you arrive, and the first thing they give you is a basket of hot white bread rolls. KILLER!!!! But, I can eat a pita here and there or a corn/flour tortilla, and in order to not eat processed frozen foods for my work lunches, really, the most realistic thing here is to at least wrap something in a pita. So, that I am doing. I eat more tuna, eggs, and luckily because I was already cooking a lot and making soups routinely every week, there I have not failed. I will continue to do as I was. I have switched my breakfast yet AGAIN though. Instead of raw oats with flax, protein powder, granola, fresh berries, and rice milk, for now I have STOPPED the rice milk. I LOVE rice milk—love, love, love, but it’s VERY HIGH on the GI meter. So, now I am eating bran cereal with a little raw oats, with a ½ cup skim milk (even though I don’t tolerate dairy too well, but because I can’t eat a lot of soy due to my Hypothyroidism), flax, berries and protein powder. I may even cut out the protein powder all together—we shall see. Starting with a majorly high-fiber cereal in the morning is only benefiting me throughout the day. I literally eat 100% of my daily fiber already at breakfast… and then eat more as the day goes on besides.

Did you know that cherries, sweet cherries, bing cherries, are actually low on the GI meter? Amazingly so… not to mention dried apricots, grapefruit, pears and plums. Some of this I knew already, because when I lost weight on Michael Thurman’s Body Makeover Diet (which is the ONLY other advertised-diet that ever worked for me but took SO MUCH WORK in preparation every week) about 8 years ago (one of the times when I dropped 15 lbs) my personal blueprints only allowed me to eat low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. I had to stay away from corn. I had to stay away from refined sugar, added salt, and high GI fruit. That was SO HARD to do ALL AT ONCE. Today, I still struggle with my salt. I don’t add nearly as much as I’ve seen other people sometimes add to their food, but I’ve learned that healthy living has to be managed one step at a time, or you’ll go BUST. I have learned so much in the past years, and for the last full year I’ve been working out in addition to daily walks, fairly regularly (3-4x/week), I have been logging my foods and watching my portion sizes, and I’ve really overall stuck to it… whenever I failed I jumped right back on the bandwagon again. Over… and over… and over. Because, it’s a lifestyle. It really is. And now that I pretty much got the knack of the calories, more on foods, and the burn, I am once again looking closer at my food choices and my family history… and human physiology for that matter.

So much is against me: hypothyroidism, family diabetes, family history of cancer, insulin resistance, unhealthy foods on the market and TV influences… but if it’s up to me, I am not defeated just yet. And I won’t be without a fight. So, the challenge is on. “Is that all you’ve got?”

I was born in Berlin and raised in cities in Wisconsin, and I’ve lived in Los Angeles… so I’ve been in the middle of a big city, in my whole life… so, although I consider myslf an organic foods shopper (in the city), and camper (when able), I am generally surrounded by noisy city traffic, an office-work-setting, cell phones ringing, and the like… what I was about to experience was a moment back in time, where a family survives self-efficiently off of their own garden, and self-created electricity… a time almost forgotten, where no pesticides are used on the food, where education and family intermingle, and where life runs according to the sun rise and set.

When I arrived to the farm, Inn Serendipity , after a 3-hour drive, at 4PM, I was exhausted. I’d been fighting a cold for the last 2 weeks and still felt under-the –weather. And, although I knew to expect a special on-location seminar finishing up around the time of my arrival, I didn’t actually know just yet what to expect from the farm… wasn’t sure where to go, where the owners were, if they had staff or not, where my room was… and felt initially overwhelmed. My boyfriend had caravanned with me there, but left as soon as he dropped me off, to drive an hour backwards to a friend’s house. He would stay there the night. I’d stay on the farm for a night.

I walked into the farm house, not knowing if I was supposed to ring first or not, but many people walked in and out… and I was too tired to stop someone else outside… most either wore long beards, or wore glasses carrying notebooks and briefcases… all ages… most looked friendly, but I felt the odd-ball, the youngest, and alone. I stood there in the dining room until someone noticed me. One o f the owners, Lisa Kirivirst, was the one who approached me and explained that she could show me to my room but was finishing the seminar on Eco-Living, and could help give me a tour shortly after and that I was welcome to stop for coffee next door but I didn’t know what that really meant. I was shown to my “Music Room,” comfortable, small, with a closed-patio, upstairs, a full-sized bed, and just the necessities, decorated with musical instruments. I looked forward to the solace and silence I imagined to follow. But, as I stood there with my baggage, I noticed instead about 50 – 100 Black Elder Beetles and Asian Ladybugs on my walls both in my room and inside my room’s patio—and the door stood wide open to welcome them… so, although I knew they couldn’t hurt me, and although I could hear my mother’s voice echoing, “what did you expect? It’s a farm! There will be bugs!” I just couldn’t rest.. so, instead, I began to walk. Lisa had mentioned that about 2 blocks from the farm existed a pathway that would eventually lead me from the farm into a woods… the sun was beginning to set, and I wasn’t sure of the path, so I walked… and walked… for an hour I walked and never found the woods… and I was so tired. And then I walked back towards the farm and found the path. I made the effort to find the forest, but kept quick on my feet to return before dark to the farm.

…and what about supper? The farm had a list of restaurants nearby, but the closest were in Monroe, and I was in Browntown without a map. I’d never find my way back in the dark on farm roads… and so I asked the other owner, John, if I could order out and have someone deliver. He wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure anymore either. I wondered if I’d go hungry that night. After all, this was a Bed & Breakfast (B&B). And at prior B&Bs you pay extra for ANYTHING they offer, and if this was a farm, well, “Really,” I thought, “What exactly would they offer?” They grow vegetables… maybe I could ask for a cucumber… At that point John was talking to who would be my neighbors that evening, a female couple, I assume who were Lesbian, although one of them mentioned she had a daughter, from out-of-town. They smiled a lot, were friendly, and always together. And John talked a lot… but I was so exhausted, at 6PM it went through one ear and out the other. And then I remembered that Lisa had mentioned “coffee” and noticed a building behind John, and interrupted him to inquire if I could go inside. I felt a bit rude by doing so, but I specifically decided to B&B there for the simple fact that I wanted to “get away from people and noise and be surrounded by healthy food” and here I was… and he did let me enter that wooden barn… and inside… to my amazement, were baskets and trays of ½-eaten goodies!!! They were homemade, labeled, all-organic, from apple crisp to pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffins!!! OH! I WAS SAVED!! Hallelujah!!! I was soon offered some homemade lemon-balm tea that was extraordinary too!

By 6:30PM all of the visitors that had been there for the seminar had left. John showed me around the farm, and introduced me to their solar oven, their electric car, their solar-powered-electric-everything… I felt like I was in such a foreign place but I was indeed “wow’d” by all this… and to learn that they make enough energy on the farm to sell electricity back to the electric company! They home-school their 3rd grade son, they run a 2-room B&B on weekends, the run their organic farm, Lisa is an amazing cook, was on her feet all night in fact, they both write, and both of them are published, John delivers seminars… all very interesting! And they are self-sufficient 100%… amazed me… John and I proceeded to have a long talk in the living room inside… meanwhile Lisa brought out her first goodies since I’d eaten the muffin… unexpected, and free during my stay, were now these cucumbers, sliced, marinated in honey and fresh basil, all organic of course, stuffed with cheeses… by now I was full! But WHAT A TREAT!!

After an interesting conversation, John left to begin a bon fire. I didn’t even know it was on the agenda… I expected to be in my room drawing, writing, or even sleeping, and instead found myself engaged with Lisa, John, and their son Liam… in fact, they are all Star Wars fans too, so they really liked my license plate, and we had yet something ELSE to talk about!! …and I was getting my 2nd wind.

Soon, I was off to the bon fire… John had set out multiple chairs to choose from to sit at. He threw old barn doors on the flames, old tree branches, and I just stared—into the fire… my first fire of the year and it was already October!!! “Wow! What happened to me this year” I thought that I hadn’t even been camping yet even once to make a fire!!?? Soon the other couple came out too… and before long Lisa came out, Liam came out, and they had small homemade pizzas to offer. They buy their cheeses and dairy 2x/year from Organic Valley about 2 hours away, and put $300-worth of purchases into their freezers. How wonderful! Granted, I don’t eat a lot of cheese, but if I had dairy, it was going to be organic. So, this was fabulous. And they don’t eat meat, so there was no need for other grocery shopping.

I did from time-to-time still feel somewhat inferior in conversation, in fact, even sometimes a bit detatched… there were times I felt that the other couple staying at the farm paid more notice that I was around, but everyone’s different, and I was mostly just in awe the whole time that the owners were in fact interacting willingly as much with all of us as they were! Again, to compare, other B&Bs frequently show you to your room, and then leave you alone until breakfast. This place was the opposite—a complete “family affair” and even Liam joined in conversations. Soon Lisa offered to bring us out each some of her new pear or cherry cordials she’d made. Apparently her mother-in-law or mother has a cherry tree, and so… sure enough, I had some and it was DELICIOUS!!! By this time, I knew I was not only going to have to buy some of their produce from the farm and take it home the next day (which was offered to guests) but also buy Lisa’s cookbook. Furthermore, the solar oven I’d prior mentioned, had made spinach balls earlier in the day for seminar guests. I was amazed with the idea and John mentioned it to Lisa, and before long there was a knock at my door upstairs while I changed into some different pants for the bon fire… who was it? Lisa, with a new plate-full of spinach balls JUST FOR ME!!! Oh!!! Let me tell you… I was STUFFED like a pig, but a healthy pig was I!!! And, by then I’d noticed someone had been in my room to turn on a lamp, for it wasn’t me. And next to my night table stood another homemade cordial with a single homemade white chocolate truffle. How sweet it was… and again, it was a surprise. I can’t help but mention then, that at other B&Bs if they offer something such as a chocolate, not only do they mention that they offer it ahead-of-time (wherefore, no surprises) but they also charge extra for it. But, at Inn Serendipity, NO SUCH THING… all surprises, all fresh and organic, all homemade, and NO extra charge.

I excused myself from the bon fire before 10PM and headed to my room. My bathroom was across the hall. A small shower, even smaller toilet, and small sink waited for me. In the shower was homemade soap—and it smelled of sweet peppermint… by the time I got out of the shower the whole floor smelled like peppermint—it was INTOXICATINGLY WONDERFUL!!!

Exhausted, I figured the bugs wouldn’t bother me so much… I turned out the lights… –but since some of the Black Elder Beetles had also fallen onto my sheets, granted they came from the outside and wouldn’t hurt me, I still had a hard time sleeping for it… so I woke in the night on the hour. (*NOTE: Chances are, most weeks and months this is not the case and I just happened to be there when the bugs were at worst)… And breakfast was to be served at 8:30AM… so, although I technically had 8 hours of rest, I woke constantly… and felt very tired the next morning…

I have to admit, I had a few early “Superman” moments where I flashbacked to the movies of when he grew up on a farm… after all, that’s where I saw it all: on TV… until now. Otherwise I’d only ever been to a single other B&B on a farm, and the experience wasn’t nearly as intimate.

I never got to writing or reading or even drawing… heck, I didn’t even get around to sitting on my patio like I thought I would… but, I did get a wealth of information, a lot of great new foods to try, and a very awesome new experience. And anyone who knows me, knows that come hell or high water, nothing will stop me for adventure.

Breakfast was served. Lisa and John were both wearing aprons and helping serve. I had coffee, homemade grape juice, potato-onion pancakes, applesauce, & a hot tomato-crouton side, an dyes, I had another pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffin. The 3 of us guests sat on the downstairs porch together at a small table with candles lit, and were served. It was very intimate. At first I felt slightly uncomfortable because I did not know this other couple well, and I had no one else to sit with to defer my attention, but luckily they were a nice pair and soon I excused myself once again… and took another walk. This time I walked down that path aforementioned, into the woods, and back. When I returned I gathered my produce, picked up my book, paid for my night, and asked if I could sit outside until my boyfriend returned to caravan with me again home. They were very obliging although check-out was 11AM. The other couple stayed until past Noon in fact, and I left at 11:15. None of us were charged extra. They did ask for cash. Luckily everyone in September had sent small donations for my birthday, to be used specifically for this cause/retreat. And, this is what I used. I bought Lisa’s cookbook, my night’s stay, a huge carton of freshly picked organic spinach from their garden, 6 potatoes, 1 onion and 4 heads of garlic… in fact, I think I ordered 2, but got 4. And, just before I headed out the door, as I was thanking them for their hospitality, Lisa asked if I’d like to try their homemade frozen yogurt they’d just made… so I got to try that too! Creamy goodness! What a note to leave on!

Would I go again? Absolutely. Who then would I recommend this for? I recommend Inn Serendipity for anyone who is:
-single, and wants a get-away from the city
-couples who are mutually interested in learning about how a family survives self-efficiently on a farm
-those interested in organic foods, who enjoy a family environment
-anyone who doesn’t expect a spa or to hang out at a bar all night, but enjoys starlight and crickets chirping at night and maybe an organic cordial before bedtime as a treat instead
-anyone moderately sociable who prefers a more intimate setting of small groups
-anyone who prefers not to worry about a front-desk, can carry their own bags and isn’t worried about walking alone outside in a rural community or worried about harmless bugs
-anyone interested to taste an amazing array of organic homemade foods in a ma-n-pa setting

*Note: Here’s a Link to Lisa’s Award-winning Baking/Cooking
And here’s info on John’s Eco-Car

I thought it was important already BEFORE to eat organic, but now I think it’s even that much MORE important! According to several recent articles, losing weight means toxins, normally stored in all of our tissues and fat, are released into the bloodstream–toxins, like pesticides from food!
Article 1
Article 2
Article 3

Try to stick to at least this chart. I do… I have since my little sister was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, due to toxins, although we will never know which…
The Dirty Dozen

Whales Beached

I read this article today, and my heart became heavy:

Pilot Whales Beached

…the worst part is, no one knows why whales strand themselves, but it’s been happening for a long time. My favorite animal/mammal is a Blue Whale. I have loved marine life my _entire_ life, and it’s been part of the allure to why I became a hula dancer and member of the local Ohana. I was given a nickname during my college years, “Ocean Girl” and it stands true to date… there is no such connection to another part of this planet I feel stronger than to the sea, and all the mysterious creatures who live there.

I had my usual workout yesterday but ran into an article with MANY “Aha” moments while reading up on a “Fitness” magazine at the gym while pedaling on the upright Matrix bike.

I couldn’t find it in stores–the particular version and article I wanted was in the “Eat Right” section… then I looked online and not until this afternoon did I finally find a section of that article. Here, I share it with all of you. NO EXCUSES PEOPLE!!!

Part I

“Dieting Excuses and Strategies
Oops, I did it again. I gave in to the late-night siren song of Ben & Jerry’s blaring from my freezer. As I scarf down New York Super Fudge Chunk, I come up with all kinds of reasons I need, even deserve, it. “We fool ourselves into thinking it’s okay to give in to temptation, focusing on short-term gratification instead of long-term consequences,” says psychologist Judith S. Beck, PhD, author of The Beck Diet Solution. Here, nine diet cop-outs and ways to reclaim control and ditch the excuses — and the excess pounds — for good.

Cop-Out: “I’m on vacation.”
Everyone deserves a little R&R, but when rest equals a hiatus from exercise, and relaxation means eating everything in sight, you’ll be packing more pounds on your return trip. “A few cocktails and three restaurant meals can easily sneak in an extra 2,000 to 3,000 daily calories,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “In one week, that can add up to four to six pounds of fat.”

Take charge. “Don’t plan for perfection; instead, plan to indulge in moderation by paring down portions,” Blatner suggests. Tasting the culture is part of the experience, so sample the local delicacies and skip the stuff you can get anywhere. (Brie in France? Oui. French fries? Non.) Do the opposite with vacay libations: Stick with your usual white wine or Bloody Mary as opposed to sugary, umbrella-adorned drinks. Finally, work some calorie-blasting fun into the itinerary: Go sightseeing by bike or try a new activity, like surfing.

Cop-Out: “I have PMS.”
Take comfort in the fact that symptoms like cramps and mood swings aren’t totally in your head. You may be extra susceptible to carb attacks; although we all experience fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, certain women are more affected by them. “It’s possible that those who are prone to PMS experience a drop in the brain chemical serotonin, and that can cause a spike in appetite — especially cravings for carbohydrates,” explains Stephanie Collins Reed, PhD, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University.

Take charge. Tame the PMS monster by tracking your cycle at mymonthlycycles.com (or try the iPeriod app); it will help you keep your blood sugar stable while your hormones ride the roller coaster. In the week before and during your period, reach for healthy, high-fiber snacks every few hours; choose those that provide a steady release of energy and satisfy your sweet — or salty — tooth. “Dip four strawberries in two tablespoons melted dark chocolate chips and refrigerate for 10 minutes, or have three cups of air-popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan,” Blatner suggests.

Cop-Out: “But he’s eating all that!”
The sexes are supposed to be equal, but our metabolism never got the memo. Men burn more calories at rest because they tend to have more muscle (muscle blasts more calories than fat does). Do the math: A 30-year-old man who is five feet 10 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds burns about 2,600 calories a day, while a woman of the same age, weight and height burns a little more than 2,200 calories a day. “Women are gaining more weight because they’re consuming the same huge portions,” explains weight-loss expert Jim Karas, author of The 7-Day Energy Surge.

Take charge. Instead of eating like a man, try exercising like one, with an emphasis on strength moves. If you don’t have time to hit the weight room, do 10 push-ups and Supermans (lie on your stomach and raise your head, arms, and legs off the ground, as if you’re flying, for as long as you can; rest for 30 seconds and repeat). Do three sets every other day and you’ll build maximum muscle in minimum time. When mealtime rolls around, have half of what he’s having. (Hint: Use a smaller plate to make the difference less obvious.)”

Part II

“More Dieting Strategies:

Cop-Out: “What’s a movie without Milk Duds?”
Snacks at the cinema, chili dogs at the ballpark, chocolate cake at a birthday party — we’re conditioned to eat in so many places and situations. “It’s nearly impossible to walk into the movies and not be tempted by popcorn,” says Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of The Good Mood Diet. “You figure everyone else is eating it, and it’s part of the experience, so you should have it too.”

Take charge. Retrain your brain so that Twilight does not equal a tub of popcorn with extra butter. Before you leave home, pack a lighter version of your usual treat (veggie-flavored Pirate’s Booty for the movies, a six-pack of light beer for the neighborhood barbecue) and, to steel your willpower, jot down what you’re going to eat. Visualize how great you’ll feel when you walk out of the theater without the weight of the butter-drenched popcorn or leave the cookout without a bloated beer belly — and how happy you’ll be when you step on the scale the next day.

Cop-Out: “I’m so stressed out.”
Blame it on evolution: When you’re under pressure, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, prompting temporary spikes in energy, metabolism, and blood sugar. According to research, women who are frazzled often turn to foods like ice cream and pizza. Chronic stress is especially dangerous: Over time, high cortisol levels can lead to fat storage in the abdomen, upping your risk for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Take charge. Blatner recommends making a list of calorie-free stress busters, which might include taking a walk around the block or listening to relaxing music. “When you get the urge to splurge, consult the list and do one of the activities for 10 minutes; that’s often long enough to distract you from the craving,” she says. If you can’t squelch your stress or appetite, opt for healthy protein (lean turkey or low-fat cottage cheese). “Protein raises blood sugar and keeps it stable for several hours,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now. “Sugar helps you feel better for only about an hour.”

Cop-Out: “I’ve been good all week.”
You were the picture of dietary perfection Monday through Friday, and now it’s time to celebrate with a champagne brunch, a three-course dinner, and an evening of barhopping. Welcome to the weekend weight-gainers club! Researchers from the University of North Carolina discovered that people in the United States consume an average of 115 calories more per day on the weekend. This may not sound like much, but it adds up to an extra five pounds a year (and jeans that are way too tight). Plus, splurging on Saturday and Sunday often spills over into the workweek.

Take charge. Instead of thinking, “TGIF…I can finally eat something,” spread out your indulgences — a frozen yogurt here, a glass of wine there — through the week. Try not to make the weekend a restaurant marathon; when you are going to eat out, schedule a pre-dinner jog or post-brunch hike.

Cop-Out: “I haven’t eaten all day.”
You bypassed breakfast and hardly touched your lunch, so you feel like the queen of willpower — until you blow those saved-up calories (and more) on an enormous dinner. Skimping on meals early in the day often backfires because it boosts the production of ghrelin. This sneaky hunger hormone doesn’t just encourage you to eat; it also tells you to go for the good, but not good-for-you, stuff. A recent study found that when test subjects either fasted or received a ghrelin injection, they preferred diet-busting munchies like cake, chocolate, and pizza to veggies, salad, and fish.

Take charge. Outsmart your hunger hormones by eating every three hours; research shows that the more often people dine throughout the day, the less likely they are to be obese. “Keep satisfying snacks — an apple and almonds, cucumber slices and hummus — at your office or prepped in your fridge,” Blatner suggests. Not a frequent eater? Make it a habit by using a food diary, and jot down when you eat in addition to what you eat. If you notice you’re going more than three hours without a snack, set a timer to help you stay on track.

Cop-Out: “I need a pick-me-up.”
Ah, the mid-afternoon slump, when you want to curl up in your cubicle. Of course, you also want to keep your job, so you opt for a Snickers instead of a siesta. Turns out you’re not just lazy. Our circadian rhythms (the physical, mental, and behavioral habits controlled by our biological clocks) actually make us want to take an afternoon nap: An energy dip occurs about halfway between the time we awake and hit the sack. That means if you’re up at 7 and go to bed at night by 11, your slump will hit around 3 p.m. Because studies also link fatigue and high-carb snack attacks, the afternoon munchies mystery is solved.

Take charge. If you’re at home, take a 30- to 60-minute catnap to recharge your batteries. Researchers in Japan recently reported that it’s an effective way to boost energy and alertness. At work, go for a quick walk. A recent University of Georgia study found that just three low-intensity workouts a week raised people’s energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent after six weeks.

Cop-Out: “I’m too busy to eat right.”
The more hectic our lives become, the less time we seem to have for our health. Case in point: A recent Cornell study found that parents who work long hours rely heavily on takeout and restaurant food. The irony is that while many of us claim we’re too busy to prepare a nutritious dinner, we still find time to watch American Idol as we wait for the pizza.

Take charge. Instead of opting for that 30-minutes-or-less delivery guarantee and settling in with your favorite show, try one of our 20-minute recipes. Or prep a week’s worth of meals ahead of time. Grilling chicken breasts and prechopping vegetables are obvious shortcuts, but you can also hard-boil eggs or even precook whole-grain pasta (simply warm small portions in the microwave or a skillet). “These foods will last in the refrigerator for five days,” Blatner says. Still too much work? Try our lazy girl’s grocery list: rotisserie chicken, frozen vegetables and unsweetened fruits, boxes of quick-cooking brown rice or other whole grains, and veggie trays with dip for a quick snack or to throw into a speedy stir-fry (without the dip). See how healthy fast food can be?”

**Helpful Hint: If you decide you absolutely MUST have popcorn, make some freshly popped at home and LEAVE OUT THE BUTTER. Sprinkle a little Parmesan on instead!

No one is responsible for my happiness. I’ve learned how to make myself happy… however, I’m notorious for jumping the gun and trying with all my might to make someone else happy by altering my personal happiness… by conforming and negotiating and by trying to balance a relationship with compromise, I tend to give so much of myself, that if something goes wrong I’ve found myself to have become co-dependent… even if the other wasn’t able to really allow me to rely on them for much to begin with… it’s enough to set me into limbo, and that limbo scares me to death. This is a point I struggle with, but am aware of, and know it needs attention.

Agreements… clear? A healthy relationship has agreements and boundaries. We’ve come to a place agreeing on an “open relationship” and have _mutually_ set some “rules” but I am not sure if I can count on them being followed… I will do my part.

Communication… pivotal to a relationship, and during conflicts important for resolution. I tend to be the initator here, but listening has to come from both sides without prenotion or assumption… and again, this has been a huge obstacle where I find myself together with the one I love.

We need to know what we want. I know what I want… I can’t know what the other is thinking–in my case I’ve asked frequently and stories change… again, I’ve found patience is a virtue, but it’s my own choice to play the waiting game… and I definitely can’t, won’t and have no intention of even trying to change the other.

See the best in each other…

This is supposed to be a learning experience. We’re meant to grow, learn, appreciate, and work together.

Forgiveness. Really, how can we ever forgive ourselves if we don’t forgive each other? I’d never cause someone I loved intentional pain _ever_ but to feel accusation without forgiveness will sabotage a relationship. And we need to focus on putting the other person first…

Selflessness… this is another area I need to work on, but I do believe in my current situation it’s a mutual challenge right now. If we actually put the other person’s needs first, hopes first, desires first, we might not have that sense of “instant satisfaction” if it conflicts with what we want simutaneously, however we can be sure the other person is happy, and in a relationship it’s important to evaluate and re-evaluate how much you can give of yourself without losing yourself…

…and of course, COMMUNICATE EVERYTHING… ask questions, don’t assume… and explain how you feel without anger. There is no love in anger. And there is no safety in pain.

Expectations. Have none, or make them clear. I re-evaluate mine constantly and try to have as few as possible.

Responsbility: the ability to respond wihout accusation… explaining how you feel makes a world of difference, even if it makes you feel raw at first. Again… seriously, it’s a matter of emotional maturity.

Appreciate each other. I can’t even imagine being in love without appreciating my significant other–it’s foremost in my mind… I always find myself appreciating the good things, and give thanks frequently.

Admit mistakes and say you’re “sorry” even if you don’t know what you are sorry for yet–because if the other person is hurting and believes it was on YOUR account, you’d better appologize and find out what to change to make it right for both of you… it’s up to the individual… but saying “I’m sorry” comes with action. The first step is to admit you are sorry and never meant to hurt the other… and the to act on it and illustrate how to work it out for the best of you both.

Time, laughter, intimacy, safety… all requirements for a healthy relationship. Intimacy is a lot more than it sounds. It’s worth the research, and without it a deep, trusting, loving relationship cannot exist.

If a couple together can’t meet these points, it’s best to wait in limbo until they’re met, or realize you’re better off alone… and make yourself happy again. Where I stand right now is in such limbo. I wait for the unknown because I am deeply in love while also disappointed with the instability of my relationship… I need to take care of myself right now because no one is going to do it for me. …for now I wait, and hope, and I pray for a brighter tomorrow.

Kill Cancer

Throat Cancer… Michael Douglas?
I have to admit, I want him to seriously kick this cancer into oblivion and I know Catherine-Zeta Jones does too… I love her too by the way. They, as a couple, somehow inspire me.

Michael Douglas and others like him… Who else? Cancer… it’s such an evil, evil disease that takes away everything: family, health, happiness, functionality… everything… unless you put up a fight and win. Some do. Not all have been so lucky. I’m proud and thankful and enormously grateful that my sister is still in remission after 3 years from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage IV cancer, but I realize she’s been blessed… I have been therefore also been blessed.

Who do I recall of our celebrities, who have not been so lucky, who made a great impact on me? Those I especially miss:

Pancreatic Cancer… Michael Landon
I grew up watching “Little House on the Prairie” and then some of his series that followed. I’m proud to state that I’ve seen every single episode at least once of the entire “Little House” series, plus read many of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I always felt Michael Landon, especially in his role in “Little House,” was the envisioned father-figure I wanted in my life. I was heart-broken when he passed on. Remembering him, I still am.

Pancreatic Cancer… Patrick Swayze
I was never a fan of his acting, but I’m a fan of his dancing and of the all-famous role he played in “Dirty Dancing.” I followed his battle with cancer and was very sorry to find he lost to it.

I guess I just have one statement left to make…


I have been wanting to get away (much like in the story/movie, “Eat, Pray, Love”) and meditate the same way in Bali… but of course, it’s not that easy. Time and money fail me. I’m also a divorcee much like the subject in that story… also similar to another favorite movie of mine, Under the Tuscan Sun… and I’ve been wanting to get away and be in silence, away from the city again, since I returned from Hawaii, to no avail. I moved into a country-suburban unit originally to do just that, and yet it’s not working for me… I want to be away from everything known to me and be new, and feel refreshed again, be in the sun, the air, and heal… even if a weekend can only plant a seed, I am open to any and all possibilities!

So, I’ve newly, and quite serendipitously come across, and checked myself in to a Green World B&B called “Inn Serendipity” and I do believe the price, the place, and the environment is right on… not only is this place on an organic farm, but they believe in earth conservation, and put gravity into the silence… I’m very, very much looking forward to going, next month overnight to think, breathe, eat, pray, write, meditate, and sleep, sleep, sleep!!!