3 “Quickie” Ways to Live a Better Life

That sounds like a big promise. After all, how can just three things give me a better life?

But we have to start somewhere, and I get overwhelmed with the many “self-help” articles and podcasts I take in every day. There’s NO WAY to do all the things I want to do to make life better.

These three, however, make the top of the charts for me. Anything else is what we call in Louisiana, “Lagniappe,” or, a little something extra.


1. START THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE. Whatever we focus on expands. This is an absolute law of consciousness, and WILL NOT FAIL when practiced consistently.

This morning, for example, I skipped my usual half hour of journal time, spending that time hand writing four THANK YOU notes. Two were to clients, one was to someone who helped me through a real estate crisis last week, and one was to a new friend, who invited me to breakfast and shared some gardening secrets.

Sending actual thank-you notes in the mail is a lost art, and has huge impact these days on the receiver – and the sender. I picked some beautiful notes from my collection, put aside everything else, and wrote notes of sincere thanks, with detail, to each of these four people, and used my “wine country” stamps to mail them in their linen envelopes. This made me feel old-fashioned and thoughtful and kind. And it expanded my outlook for the day into creating new reasons to give thanks, based on my inbox.

Whether it’s taking time to write in a journal, a quick “gratitude walk” around the block, or a simple gesture like sending a “thank you” note… start every morning with a deep breath and a review of the wonderful things that have happened – and thank anyone who helped make good things possible. Without fail, when I do this, I am given more than I need throughout the day.


I’m drinking bone broth, doing smoothies for breakfast, trying to eat only organics, and taking collagen supplements right now – plus trying to remember all the beauty routines I’m supposed to be doing for clear skin, a tighter butt, better flexibility, and more energy. NO WAY am I ever going to make it through the whole regimen of self-imposed responsibilities for a healthier me. I have about twenty daily things I’m supposed to be trying!

So, rather than beat myself up about what I forgot to do consistently, or feeling ashamed of not taking any of it seriously enough… I’ve committed to start each morning with a banana smoothie, because I am dangerously low in potassium right now – and everything else will fall in place as I go through the day.

I don’t do any of it perfectly, and things fall by the wayside as quickly as I commit to them; but just by starting my day with my banana smoothie, I find it easier to drink the bone broth at lunch, then I feel like I’ve accomplished two important diet goals, and I just find myself eating a more sensible lunch – then I feel I can eat whatever I want for dinner. I’ve earned it.

It’s an imperfect system, but just ONE right choice leads to many others throughout the day. By the time I settle in for evening, I feel like I’ve stayed on track, I tend to exercise before bedtime more often, and then that leads to more mindful skin care, etc. It all starts with just one thing. Without that, it’s easy to fail all day.


This is really hard for someone like me, who is always dissatisfied with something.  It always seems I SHOULD be working harder at something, progressing on a project, seeking enlightenment, whatever…

But lately, I have been forcing myself to enjoy the “lazy moment.”

I actually set a timer for this.  30 minutes in the afternoon before I pick up my son from school.  I don’t read.  I don’t work.  I don’t allow myself to think about what I haven’t done today.

I simply go outside and “chill” in my garden and drink juice or coffee.  I close my eyes, listen to the noise of the city, force myself to be still and listen deeper, for the birds, conversations, the swaying of trees and the rustle of leaves.  All the sounds of the country exist in the city, too, if I make myself be aware.  Mindful.

Then I breath in and note the smells.  I drink slowly and savor the taste of my drink.  I try to name every color I can see without turning my head.

I just sit there.  It’s very hard to do, but once my 30 minutes is up… I feel like I’m starting a brand new day, with plenty of energy, and I look forward to getting moving again.

This is real progress toward the more mindful life I long for.  It’s all right here, I just have to notice it by forcing myself to be lazy.

Vinegar Cleansing – Pros and Cons


All the hype about vinegar cleansing over the past few years brought back memories.

My first husband, Bob, dabbled in anti-aging strategies for all the years we were together.  He passed away in 2007 from lung cancer, but throughout his life, he definitely tried some strange home remedies, and I usually tried them with him.

One of them, back in the nineties, was the vinegar cleanse.  He did a “shot” of vinegar every day to “clean his veins,” and he did this just like a shot in a bar – straight vinegar, down the hatch, in a shot glass… just like that.

Me?  I tried once, gagged so hard I almost vomited, then felt the burn down my throat and chest for a whole day after that.  This was not my idea of a good way to cleanse!

Here in the new millennium, these things are cycling back through, and all the talk about the vinegar cleanse made me laugh… but then again, I’m 51 now, not 25.  Maybe it’s time to think about cleansing those veins after all.

In truth, weight loss was my main motivator.  I am a slender person and always have been; but having a baby at 42 has definitely made me struggle with an extra five to eight pounds of belly fat.  It’s a see-saw of getting rid of that “bump,” and losing a bit too much in my arms and face, looking a bit too skeletal to seem like I’m at a healthy weight.

So, the vinegar cleanse initially solved this problem.  Completely.  A shot of vinegar each night added to orange juice was my solution.  When taken in this way, the vinegar did alter the taste of the OJ a bit, but it was drinkable and just made the juice taste more like grapefruit.  I could live with that.

Then, on our summer trip to visit family in Ohio, my brother-in-law introduced me to his amazing concoction for vinegar, and I was hooked!

The recipe you see in the mason jars above is:  about one cup (maybe more) in the blender with fresh blueberries, honey, strawberries and some cranberry juice to fill the rest of the blender.

I literally feel the antioxidants flowing through me when I drink this, plus the cleansing of the vinegar (almost immediate), and I can make batches to keep in the fridge for use each night.

Long story short – I did it too often, for too long.

First, it stopped working the way it did with the orange juice.  I was getting my bloated belly back, and no matter what I did… it would not go away.

Second, I think daily is too much.  I have been pretty consistently using vinegar cleansing every day for about a year.

On a hot August Saturday in New Orleans, I decided to work in my garden and plant a few new things I’d picked up over the past few weeks.  My “garden” consists of two flower beds with a sidewalk between them, and I was inspired by a visit to a new friend’s house… Doris’ garden is an overflowing English garden that meanders all the way around her house, up and down the sides, bordering her sidewalks…

In New Orleans, we have tiny postage-stamp yards in the city.  Our houses are close together with small driveways (if you’re lucky) between them; so our gardens are big time important.  They really define the whole house from the street, and we are competitive in our efforts to have “effortless” tropical oases throughout the neighborhood.

Mine looks awesome, I must say.

But.  On that particular day, the heat really got me.  I paced myself, worked a section of the garden at a time, took breaks, drank water, went inside for half hour intervals.  Still, by the end of the day, I felt really drained and exhausted.  I was only out there for a total of two hours, but I sweated profusely and, I think, lost lots of fluids.

I think I dehydrated more quickly because of the vinegar allowing all my liquids to escape through my skin.  This is very unscientific – I’m just saying, I did a lot of sweating, which I usually do not do, and for the next week, I fought dizziness, weakness and had a very unstable, “fluttery” feeling in my muscles and a “twitchiness” that ran throughout my nervous system.

Someone suggested laying off the vinegar and focusing on rebalancing my electrolytes.  It seems all the acid had stripped away what I needed, as well as what I didn’t.

It took about two weeks of letting my body tell me what it wanted before the strangeness stopped.

I craved pasta, red meat, and bananas.  I seemed to need lots of potassium and protein, and I even added Pedialyte to my drinks a few times a day, since I have my doubts about the healthfulness of Gatorade and other sports drinks.

Now, finally back to normal, I’m trying a new theory for keeping belly fat at bay.  I’m back to the orange juice and vinegar, but just once a week.

I’m also adding more fiber to my diet, having frosted Mini Wheats for lunch every day, to keep myself “regular.”

This is a good example of what I always lack – moderation.  I think the vinegar cleansing is a helpful addition to my efforts to purge toxins from my body, but too much strips away the good things, too.

If you’re vinegar cleansing and not feeling “right,” it may make sense to take a break and focus on other ways of ridding toxins, while maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients and liquids.




Thrive Market

This is a great health food hack I recently found by listening to a podcast about eating better foods.

I had been looking for carob powder, and locally I could only find the unsweet chips (like baking chips).  When I heard about Thrive, I was pumped, because I’ve noticed that our local health food stores seem to be going out of business.  The only thing that survives is the chains, like GNC – which is no good for my purposes.

Thrive is an online health food store with tons of ingredients for baking and very inexpensive options for simple things, like coconut oil, which I use a lot – as a beauty solution and to bake.

They also had bone broth, which is something I’ve been hearing a lot about to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss.  I think, based on family history, this is something I should work on.

The best part is, they have free shipping on minimum orders of $49, and you get credits each time you shop toward next time.  I spent about $80.00 and already have a $5.49 credit.

So… here is the link to THRIVE.

Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Try & Tell: No Red Meat for 30 Days

Here is an experiment I’m starting today, based on what some beautiful, young twenty-somethings have told me about their diets.

They don’t eat red meat.

Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve heard of eliminating red meat, and I’m not sure what the benefits may be – but I’m going to try it, and I’ll do a weekly update of any changes I notice.

Mostly, I want to feel more energetic as we enter fall.  I’ve got lots of gardening and outdoor work to do in our courtyard – and I need more energy!

So… here it goes.  Day one.  We will be eating trout tonight, along with a mixed green salad and probably mac and cheese, to keep our nine-year-old, Bryce, happy.

Meanwhile… I think it would be helpful here to post some facts, but I’m not going to.

I literally know nothing about the reasons for avoiding red meat, so I’m just going to notice my own reactions, then I’ll post more information after this 30 day experiment, to provide more help to you in your own journey, and to see if any of the changes I notice are actually “a thing.”

Let’s call this a completely un-scientific blind study.


  • Right now I have a bloated feeling in my belly, and about three pounds of “pinchable” fat on my abdomen.  In spite of daily vinegar cleansing, this is not going away.
  • I feel sluggish and in general, my stomach is very “full” feeling and I just feel lazy and unhealthy right now.
  • I’m sweating like crazy these days, and having to use men’s deodorant!  (Not in a hot-flash kind of way.  Just overall seem to have a high body temperature).

August 17 update:  For now, this topic will have to be put aside.  Over the past weekend I worked in my actual flower garden – in heat over 100 degrees.  I seem to have thrown off my electrolytes and am experiencing ongoing dizziness while I try to rebalance them.  It seems that changing too many things in my diet right now is not a good idea.

Will restart this experiment at a later time.