Life: Version 2.0

happiness is a simple life



2013 Reflection and Gratitude

My Dog Jasper. The most amazing companion ever. 2002-2013, Rest in Peace.

With only a few hours left in 2013, I figure it’s a good idea to take some time to reflect on my journey and to make some decisions around where to apply  my focus in 2014. In this age of distraction it’s really for me to lose my way and not make progress in areas that will really make a difference for me.

In many ways, I face the same old struggles with my weight and finances, and my inability to figure out what my true passions are. I do know that these things are merely symptomatic of a larger issue.  With that said, I have made much progress this year, mainly as an outcome of my membership in Dahn Yoga. More than simply yoga classes, I look at this as going to “mind, body, spirit” school and although I am still very  much on my journey, it has helped me to navigate my emotions, stress, and life in much more meaningful ways.

Monticello Gardens
Monticello Gardens – my number one favorite place in the world

This holiday season has been particularly challenging for me emotionally, and I am thankful to Dahn for giving me the tools (and the community) to help. The loss of my wonderful dog Jasper earlier in December really stirred up the pot on so many emotions, and dealing wth that grief has surfaced many emotions related to my moms suicide and my father’s death while I was young. The suicide of my daughters classmate one week before Christmas was also a sobering reminder of all the hurt and pain that exists. With all of that said, these are reminders of the need for gratitude, kindness, and love – for ourselves and for others. I dedicate 2014 to being kind and loving myself more, so that I can be a role model for others.

A small list of things I am so grateful for:

  • A new job that I love, where I am appreciated and can really make a difference.
  • The ability to provide for my family
  • Two compassionate, kind, thoughtful and insightful children
  • My friends, who don’t judge me and love me no matter what
  • My community at Dahn Yoga, for gently nudging me so that I continue my journey and healing
  • People I grew closer to this year, who are unlikely friends/colleagues and I appreciate dearly (PP)
  • The Firestarter workshop that a friend and I organized and led
  • Wonderful escapes with friends
  • The honor to watch my daughter with all of her strength, beauty, and grace while she participated in gymnastics
  • The many insightful and thoughtful conversations I had with my son David
  • My neighborhood – with the big trees, hills, creeks, eagles, hawks, and so much more – including great neighbors and friends
  • My health and strength
  • My home, with all of its imperfections (like I have to use books to hold the windows up)
  • My old car that keeps on running
  • The gift of each day, seeing the sunrise, and all of the moments in between
View from a friends driveway in Crozet, Va
View from a friends driveway in Crozet, Va


As we move through this day and into tomorrow, I celebrate my community, family and friends, and yes, myself.

October is Sublime

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (1) Sugar Hollow

Lovely day at Fox Meadow #virginia #vineyard #mountains #winter

My Local (Virginia) Thanksgiving – Success and a summary

I am so thankful for such a wonderful day. Great friends and family gathering around the table, where we went around the table to say what we were thankful for. I am blessed.

Dinner was by far the best Thanksgiving meal I have had in a very long time. The meal was fresh and full of flavor. It was a lot of work (since I was the only one cooking) but well worth it. Only a few non-local ingredients were used (see my summary below).

Farmers Market purchases (things I purchased last weekend at my local farmers market):

  • 13lb free-range, Virginia turkey – enough to serve 6 people, with a bit of leftovers
  • sweet potatoes – baked and mashed, with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, tiny bit of butter and salt
  • Red potatoes – mashed with butter, milk and salt
  • Brussels Sprouts – tossed in olive oil, fresh rosemary from my deck garden, salt and pepper. Roasted until browned
  • Kale – sauteed onions, garlic and some bacon (not local) – then threw in 1/2 cup local white wine to de-glaze the pan, then chicken broth and kale
  • Onions & Garlic-  for just about everything
  • Granny Smith Apples – for deep dish apple pie
  • Apple Cider – used as part of the turkey brine as well as to drink
  • Eggs – for brushing the pie pastry
  • Sausage – for the stuffing.

From my deck garden: Fresh Rosemary, Sage, Thyme – all from my deck garden. I used these for the turkey as well as for the stuffing.

To decorate my table: I used some blue glass bottles with sprigs of sage, lavender, lemon verbena and rosemary (all from my deck). Beautiful.

Local beverages served:

Blenheim Vineyards 2005 Virginia Meritage

Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Virginia Chardonnay

Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Virginia Cabernet Savignon

Afton Mountain Vineyards 2007 Virginia Gewurztraminer – by far my favorite of the evening

Starr Hill Virginia Dark Starr Stout

Shenandoah Joe’s Coffee

Non-local ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Stuffing mix, chicken broth, flour, celery, walnuts, some spices, coca-cola

Thanksgiving Challenge – local flour, syrup and more in Virginia

So I was worried about some of the more mundane ingredients for my Thanksgiving meal – flour and other grains, maple syrup, etc. While doing some research, I stumbled upon Wades Mill.

A working flour mill (circa 1750), Wades Mill produces all-natural all-purpose white flour—as well as whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, grits, and more—on mill stones.  They also have local syrup, jams and jellies.

Wades Mill products are reasonably priced and are available at several markets in the Charlottesville area

  • Foods of All Nations (Charlottesville)
  • Greenwood Gourmet Grocery (Crozet)
  • Cranberry’s (Staunton), Feast! (Charlottesville)
  • C’Ville Market (Charlottesville)
  • Retail Relay (

For those living outside of the Charlottesville area, you can order directly from them online via their website:

Thanksgiving Challenge

Inspired by this post from Eco Women – I have challenged myself to prepare a Thanksgiving meal with local ingredients. This means that I will build my menu around food that is grown or raised within a 100 mile radius of my home.

I will have to do some research, because the local farmers markets are ending and I will have to get more creative. I live in Virginia, so my choices will likely look something like this:

  • Free-range, heritage Turkey
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Red Potatoes
  • Winter Squash – butternut, acorn, pumpkin
  • Apples – lots of them
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • maybe some Peas
  • Leafy greans like Kale, etc

My next post will include some online resources that I uncover after I do my research.

Will you join the challenge?

Autumn in Virginia – Family Trip

or view the slideshow on flickr

Coyote in Shenandoah National Park

who knew?

Coyote in Shendandoah National ParkCoyote in the road

Virginia, the Vote, and Inspiration

I am up at 4am. Dressed and ready by 5. Have my coffee in-hand, along with portable soccer chair stepping out the door for what is one of the most exiting, inspiring days of my life. When I arrive at the local high school at about 5:15 am, there are more than 300 folks in line. I have goose bumps.

What inspires me most is the number of young folks, looking very close to 18 – and the diversity in that line. I see so many folks I know from the community – teachers, coaches, neighbors and friends. The feeling is electric – it’s history in the making.

I am inspired today. Inspired and thankful. Thankful to live in a country where we can stand side-by-side with others who we may not agree with, but still show mutual respect. Standing next to neighbors who, in the end, care about the future of this country just as much as I do.

I hope that after today, regardless of the outcome, we can all stand together and do what it takes to make our country strong again.

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