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The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

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thank·ful (thngkfl)

adj.

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.

2. Expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile.


thankful·ly adv.

thankful·ness n.

In the last year I have changed my job, my home, my friends, my commute, my perspective, my mind, my hair and my goals. Goals became incredibly short-term, not my usual planning ahead. My hair is officially growing out all of the color and the longest it has ever been. My mind really is a muscle and it seems the more you dump into it, the harder it is to be clear (work in progress). My perspective is an evolving script at the moment, not really sure the theme just yet. My commute went back to car / train / subway / feet as it was many years ago. My friends, just as I expected are epically amazing, they are my family I was responsible for creating. My home is one I lived in many many many lives ago and although not ideal at times, it’s an incredible gift to be warm and safe and loved unconditionally. My job was once a stationary activity in the country and now is an ever-changing combination of consulting. I seem to thrive on some level of “too much.”

With all of this change, I cannot help to think of how AMAZING it is to be able to do all of things I have done. I stood up for myself, I survived heartbreak, I committed to the non-profit world, and I created nourishment for the soul and the stomach. Looking back, despite the curveballs, it’s all good.

I am ridiculously full of thanks.

I am thankful for my family, anyone that has come in contact with them falls in love, too.

I am thankful for the ability and gift to do my job, and what lately are three jobs all at once.

I am thankful for the lack of tears lately, with such a year of change, I was gunning for a Kleenex commercial.

I am thankful for being reminded that I deserve the best.

I am thankful for “THE feeling,” I do believe universe, I do believe.

I am thankful for teaching, mentoring and learning.

I am thankful for Stupid Cancer, the organization that has redefined my commitment to the young adult cancer movement. My own healing has continued from during the path and we are making other journeys less lonely, painful and intense. A true gift, increasing the success of a cancer patient.

I am thankful for our home being intact after Hurricane Sandy and for all of the people who are (and have been) helping those impacted by the intensity of Mother Nature.

I am thankful for safety.

I am thankful for life.

I am thankful for all of you that are reading this. I have taken for granted that there is people on the other side of this page. I am rededicated to this place.

From my family, to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

I have lived on Long Island (again) for 20 weeks. But, hey, who’s counting.

Commuting is intense. My skin is revolting, new patterns of bumps and redness are having a party. On. My. Face. I’m 30 and live with my parents. I am in the same room (although freshly painted) that I lived in when I was in the 9th grade. There are no perfect commuting shoes. The city is dirty. And smells. Sorry, just telling the truth.

For the first time, in a long time, I don’t have a specific goal. For as long as I can remember, there was Thea and her goal. And then I would make it happen with dedication, energy and pure will. So it’s time to get going on a new set of goals. Pronto.

On the plus side… There has been a great project with EatDrinkJobs keeping me busy. An amazing organization – StupidCancer – that has helped redefine my “cancer survivor” card. I’m even guest co-hosting the Stupid Cancer Radio Show tomorrow night! Finding a local sushi joint, Yuzu. My sister’s childhood best friend has become my train, gym, food shopping buddy. More importantly a built-in friend. Thank goodness for small miracles.

No one said adjusting to Long Island (again) was going to be easy. No one said it was going to be this hard either, but at least the waterworks don’t run every night.

“Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
heart and soul” 
~ George Harrison

So far in 2012…

I turned 30.

Winter was lame in the Hudson Valley, no snow, no sleet, no ice. Weirdness.

I influenced the lives of Hofstra undergrads for eight week in a Public Relations Copywriting course. Like whoa.

I taught social media workshops for the continuing ed program at Ulster Community College.

Spoke to inspiring NYU alumni / women / friends who are changing the world. One day at a time. Keep going ladies.

Saw amazing world change start.

Welcomed spring. Thank the good lord.

And continued my journey on being good to the people around me. Through their stomachs.

As a young girl my mother made this dish. Then it was a special treat. Now it is one of my most favorite comfort foods. Peas, onions, chicken, sour cream, salt, pepper and egg noodles.

That is a stark difference from the “health” eating that has been happening.

The weather, another screwy thing around the Northeast lately, has provided some lovely sunsets.

The season of birthdays is upon us. Most recently we have toasted my incredibly talented work husband, my best friend’s fiance, my most favorite wingwoman in the entire word, my baby cousin who can’t possibly be 18 and his smarty pants sister who just hit the mid twenty mark, hopefully  to be her best years ever.

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” ~ Sheila Graham

Stop it Mr. Timekeeper. The whole month of December is going to go so quickly that heads are spinning. Thankfully, I am going to sit on Santa’s lap with my girlfriends tonight [get mind out of gutter] and take in some holiday cheer. And see the Muppets. And I am currently sporting Miss Piggy’s ‘do.

Recently stumbled upon a very interesting read. I am pretty sure this article is titled “Thea, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

Random baffle. When I lived in a one room apartment, I always put my clothes away in the drawers and closet. In a three bedroom house, my clothes are in the laundry room, on my bed and on the couch in my room.

I turn 30 in 64 days. Not excited. I will be here. With my favs. Uber excited.

I still love everything about baking. Phew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love love love our tree. And that the people I love helped decorate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am incredibly thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life, especially during the holidays. You make my stomach hurt from of the laughter, back hurt from all of the chocolate cake I clean out of the kitchen tile grout, my head hurt from the nights of mixing, my heart hurt from the thought of not having these moments forever and my cheeks hurt from all of the smiling when I know we have it so good. So so so good.

And despite all of this holiday cheer in the country, no body does Christmas like NYC. And I am really looking forward to breathing is all in next week. I miss my city.

“I can hear people singing, it must be Christmas time.” ~ The Pretenders

1. Thea Sphere Sweets is off and running! Catch all of the Thanksgiving creations over on the official Facebook page. And “like” the page to keep up-to-date.

2. In the effort to keep the Thanksgiving season a lottle longer, I have been encouraged to do 30 days of thankfulness. Today, more than anything, I am thankful for all the people who are on my sidelines. The ones with the pom poms, the ones with the meagphones, the ones with the signs. It seems that I have my very own cheersquad whenever I need one. And even when I don’t.

3. In hair news, I have bangs. And I want to braid my hair just like this.

4. It’s officially the holiday season! So very excited about collecting toys for Family of Woodstock, cutting down our own Christmas tree at Bell’s Christmas Trees, singing carols and sipping eggnog, holiday cocktail parties, spending time with my wonderful family and extended family AND welcoming in 2012.

5. We recently visited Lucas Vineyards in Interlaken, NY on a wine our. They have an awesome Tugboat Red. And a cute wine aficionado to tell you all about it. Worth the trip.

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

1. Rennett and citric acid have arrived for the mozzarella making… keep you posted.

2. There will be 144 cupcakes and one four layer birthday cake coming out of my kitchen this weekend.

3. The leaves are GORGEOUS in the Hudson Valley, but it is raining and wet and gross, therefore there is a lack of pictures.

4. Mom delivered apples last weekend and I will be making apple-like things. Starting with Apple Pudding Cake with Cinnamon Butter Sauce.

5. I am throwing a football themed birthday party for my roommate and will be making pretzels, nacho cheese, pigs in a blanket, chilli and football cupcakes. Someone tell me where to apply for the “roommate of the year award.”

6. We just celebrated the wedded bliss of my cousin and her brand-new husband. It was an amazing and magical wedding. I still have my own personal thoughts on weddings, but if my mind was going to be changed it would be with that event. Well done. And slightly sneaky, universe.

7. Although we are not having a Halloween party this year, I WILL be having a Wicked Witch Martini on the west coast.

8. I am having serious Frye boot and iPhone envy. And yes, sometimes THINGS do make a difference.

9. The girls and I are on the lookout for wonderful single men. Please send them to the Hudson Valley if found.

10. It’s amazing how far, “you are beautiful,” can go in my book.

Hurricane Irene made her stomp on the east coast. And she was pissed off.  There are many people in the Hudson Valley whose lives have been lost under water. Memories, homes, roads and other  materialistic things have been washed away in many of my neighboring communities. Thankfully, where I live went unscathed, with power outages and road closures being the worst of it. Most of Ulster County has been declared a state of emergency and hopefully this will allow much-needed aid and support to come to the area.

In addition to the hurricane and her wrath,  I have been moved to tears over three different stories. Amazing stories about three human beings. I do not know any of these people personally, but through the channels of social media and the internet I have been introduced to them, their worlds and their footprints left on this earth.

One of my most favorite musicians, Micahel Franti, introduced his fans to Tika Hick. They met at a concert and Tika shared her story.  She and her husband David had become parents to a beautiful baby boy named Indigo, lost their home to foreclosure, and Tika was diagnosed with breast cancer all within a month. Tika and her husband took a trip to Hawaii before she was scheduled for double mastectomy surgery in July. Her husband David was swept from a rock by a rogue wave and drowned in the ocean off Maui. Michael Franti started a fund to help Tika and wished her a very happy birthday, with promises of keeping his fans updated on Tika and Indigo’s new life.

Matt over at Matt’s Bites posted “Bloggers With Out Borders and Helping Jennie.” He told the story of Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen. Her husband, Mikey, suddenly passed away few weeks ago from a heart attack. Suddenly. With out notice. Jennie and her two girls are without a husband and a father. Jennie’s last few post have been how to make the simple things in her kitchen,  straying from her more elaborate recipes and making beans and pancakes. I wish I could make Jennie pancakes. She even encouraged everyone to make their loved ones peanut butter pie, her husband’s favorite. Blogger’s Without Borders is doing what they can to help Jennie and her girls. Their organization banded  together with the internet world to help fellow bloggers, talk about a change in the times.

I learned about Tim LaFollette from one of frequent reads over at Ryan Marshall’s Pacing the Panic Room. Ryan told Tim’s story as he heard it from another blogger over at the The Shallow Brigade. Tim  passed away earlier this month after a serious battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Tim and his wife, Kaylan, are surrounded by an army of people called Often Awesome. This informal group of people keeps the life of Tim alive through is incredible story, fundraising and events. This is the trailer for a 33 part web series that was made to help spread the word and awareness about ALS. The clips are amazing. Take the time to watch Tim’s story. It makes you feel.

It doesn’t matter where I live, the city or the country. I will ALWAYS empathize and see the good in people. I will always try to help those in need. And I will continue to share my story and hopefully, with grace, help spread the stories of others. I believe you can influence through sharing – a story, a picture, a song. In fact, that’s why I have found some of my best work has been through online channels of communication. Please take the time to visit the pages and stories of these amazing people. May the ones who have passed rest in peace. And may we all have an [internet] army sharing our stories when our day arrives.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” ~  Henry David Thoreau

 

I’m treating my two-year “country” anniversary much like I treat my online dating profile… laundry lists and hopeful daydreaming.

Likes: clean air, baking, trees, the colorful house in Pdub, clear plastic wrap in a box on the counter, really good friends, local brews, cheese, bread, wine, kundalini yoga with Alli at Sacred Space, a porch where the Adirondack chairs sit nicely, mediation and Reiki

Dislikes: lack of 4 am bars / pizza / cabs / city friends / diversity, the baby sister always being at least two hours away, the persistent, “Why did you more here?” questioning, driving in really bad snow, basements with water in them, bugs, wild and most domestic animals, car trouble and not being able to speak car

For fun: Waterfalls, swimming holes, dancing at Bard in the summer, skiing Hunter mountain in the winter, snowshoes, farmers markets, Warren Cutlery and wing nights at Max’s

Interests: Getting smarter, braver, smaller and happier

Exercise habits: yoga, gym against my will, walking and laughing

Favorite hot spots: Keegan Ales in Kingston, 36 Main in New Paltz, Club Helsinki in Hudson and Mercato in Red Hook

Favorite things: cucumbers and tomatoes growing in the yard, meeting Melissa Leo before Tuesday’s showing of Dear Lemon Lema at the Rosendale Theater, Sunday night dinners with a full dinning room table, saying good morning to the Hudson River everyday, Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey and winning a free Hudson Whiskey t-shirt from Tutilltown Distillery as they hit 10k fans on Facebook, kitchen appliances (most important of them all is the KitchenAid mixer) and the roommate when we are in the routine of the week, learning to trust again and updates with the baby sister

What I am looking for: more sunsets over the Hudson, someone to go on roadtrips with, more motivation to frequent the gym, financial security (will settle for lack of financial anxiety)

My relationship with the country has come along way in the last two years and yet, I continue to be a city mouse in the country wondering what is next on the agenda.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. ” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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