GOOD GRIEF

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October 6th was the 14th Anniversary of my Dad passing away.

Seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago, all rolled into one big bunch of emotions.

Every October, a small dark cloud rolls over me.

The ache in my heart as active as ever.

Yet, in the last 14 years I found love and have a family of my own.

Unimaginable joy.

I am happy.

I have a wonderful life.

But with the happiness, there is the underlying knowledge that I will always have pain when it comes to the loss of my Dad. That’s ok.  Time has made me aware of the gifts that have unfolded as a result of grief.  It has made me a more compassionate person. It broke my heart open and allowed me to fall in love with my husband. It made me closer to my family. It made me want to be better in all aspects of my life. To honor his memory is to appreciate all that my father taught me and to live through his example.

This gives me strength.

After it happened I found it hard to imagine life without my Dad.

Now, I tap into the sadness, let it come and experience it.

Every time I do there is growth.

To feel is to heal.

There is no growth without pain.

What happens as a result is that a new life unfolds and it can be good if you let it.

And you should.

It’s what they would have wanted.

xoxo

Carrie

The Little Things

Flowers from Dandelion Ranch

Today, make a conscious effort to appreciate the little things.

Appreciation in the smallest amounts will lead to a large and open heart.

Take a second to discover what little things make you happy.

And you’ll soon see how quickly they add up.

Here are some of the simple things I appreciate in my life.

Pablo in Bed

The love of an animal.

If you have one of your own, sit down and hug your creature.

If you don’t then stop and give a pet to one.

They want nothing in return other than a little love and the act of giving you will get so much more back in return.

cheese

Cheese

Unless you are lactose intolerant.

Go buy some cheese today, splurge, get something good, sit down and relish it.

I dare you to indulge.

Sisters

Siblings

Call a sister or brother today.

They share your DNA, they know you like no one else and if your siblings are like mine they make me feel better even with a 5 minute phone call.  We usually end up talking about our parents and laughing about something only we get. It’s an intimacy that only siblings can share.

Cooking Club at Lulu's

Dining Alfresco

Turn off the damn TV.

Enjoy the last few days of summer.

The smell of the grill, being outdoors and breathing in the air.

Take some time to make your table special.

Putting a little effort into and changing up the routine is good for you, it’s good for the family.

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Fresh Flowers

I buy them every week and scatter arrangements around the house.

 To appreciate their beauty or the aroma is good for the senses and in turn good for the heart.

Even if you are picking up some from the grocery take the time and trim and arrange them in a vase.

You’ll actually find it therapeutic.

(Why don’t you put them on your outdoor dining table?)

Flat White

Coffee

The first sip of a perfect cup of coffee.

Never underestimate the joy in a good cup of coffee.

Enough said.

Los Angeles Sunset

Watch the Sunset.

Right now in LA I am loving the purple, lavender, magenta and pale pink skies at sunset.

To me those colors signal the end of summer.

And with that goes the sadness that summer is coming to an end.

Or for many, joy that the kids are headed back to school.

 Sit back and take in the beauty of it.

cocktails

The Evening Cocktail

My friend LuluPowers aka” Queen of the Sneaky” makes a ritual out of cocktail hour.

It’s so civilized.

 Sit down, relax and enjoy.

It’s a way to stop and slow down for a little reflection on your day.

Mom and Scrabble

Board Games

Remember when we all used to sit down and play games together?

 Today, with all the electronic games, you don’t need a partner to play, it’s isolating.

Get your old board games out.

They promote interaction with another person and besides it’s really fun.

Book Shot

Books

A real, actual book printed on paper.

Turn the pages and dive into another world.

 Morning

I enjoy the quiet of the morning before anyone in the house gets up.

I suggest going outside for a minute or two and listen to the sounds of the birds and neighborhood waking up.

Hand & Soil

Gardening

Dig, weed, trim, prune, water.

Get your hands dirty, it’s a good feeling to take care of living things.

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The love of your spouse.

I try to appreciate the small gestures my husband makes for me.

True signs of his love and once I string them all together I realize just how lucky I am.

To me love is not in the grand sweeping gestures, rather the often mundane  little ones that I sometimes take for granted.

For instance, each morning my  husband leaves me the newspaper on the front doorstep when he leaves for yoga class so I don’t have to run outside to the driveway to retrieve it.

Thoughtful, kind and considerate and it means a lot to me.

So today take a moment to notice a few little things that make you happy.

You’ll be glad you did.

xoxo Carrie

Photo Credits: Carrie Carr, and www.happynews.com

The Challenge

Mount Everest

The Challenge.

 I have joined the Bar Method challenge.

I have to attend 15 classes in the month of March.

Then they will develop a program for me in April and May.

They assigned me a motivational coach and paired me up with a work out partner.

That’s great and I can meet that challenge no problem.

I wanted to jump start my physical activity program.

 I’ve been busy with work and have neglected my intense daily work outs for long walks.

It’s not working.

On top of that I have additional motivation in the form of a 30 year high school reunion coming up in August.

Yup, it’s true.

You can do the math, what it really means is that I am  staring down the barrel of 50.

I turn 48 this July.

But the real challenge?

Facing the fact that I am getting older and so is my body.

Deciding once and for all whether I will lose the extra weight or continue down the path I’ve been going during my 40’s.

The weight is taking up too much head space and that is the challenge.

Mentally I’m cool with getting older.

I wouldn’t go back to being 20 or even 30.

Life gets better and better.

The hard part about getting old is how the body changes.

How one or two glasses of wine knocks me on my butt. In the not too distant past when I would refer to drinking too much wine, it was closer to a bottle than a glass that could knock me on my butt.  I could still get up, work out, work for 12 hours, and then go out on the town and do it all over all again.

Not anymore.

I could also eat whatever I wanted (within reason) and I actually never really got into sugar until I became pregnant and Sprinkles cupcakes came to town.  I developed a wicked sugar habit that I have yet to kick.

My body has  jiggles in places that I’ve never known. Those jiggles are just plain weird.

I’m not a stick, never have been.  Never will be.

I’ve got a gut no matter how slim I am and I’ve had a ample rack since junior high.

However, the gut and rack are larger than I’d like.

I have weight to loose and not 5 or 10, more like 25 or 3o.

There I’ve said it.

But in some ways it’s hard to say good bye to the pounds.  There is a certain safety and security in it.

It’s my excuse, my crutch.

I am used to being unhappy about it and it now feels normal and that’s wrong.

Feeling bad about yourself is not normal.

It’s also hard to get used to how people respond to older women.

I’m called Mame by store clerks.  I

keep on looking around for my Mom, but it’s me they are talking to.

I don’t get the double take anymore.

 You know when a guy looks at you and then turns again to see you walk on by?

The last double take I got was when I was 9 months pregnant and was so large I got stuck in the booth at Canters Deli.

We all want to feel sexy to the opposite sex even if we are married.

This extra weight in combination with the natural changes of an aging body is not making me feel my best.

(I must give kuddos to my husband here.  He adores me no matter what I look like.
Up for days on end with a newborn, dried breast milk and barf on my shirt, he still thinks I’m hot)

But I am going to rise to the challenge once and for all.

Not for the 30th reunion.

Not for anyone.

But me.

I can do it.

So can you.

xoxo Carrie

Best Coffee by a Longshot!

Flat White

I am obsessed with Coffee+Food (more on that later) located in the Old Wild Oats Cafe space on Melrose.

One of the main reasons, besides the awesome Panini’s and the Kale Salad (it’s addictive, you’ve been warned) is their coffee.

Julio Urbinato

Soooo while I was dreaming of the coffee to come I struck up a conversation with the oh so cute and charming man behind the coffee machine.

His name is Julio Uriarte and he is actually a “guest” barista representing the coffee company and he’s fabulous.

But the coffee he uses is even more fabulous.

Long Shot Coffee Beans The coffee beans come from Longshot Espresso.

It’s smooth, rich and strong, but it doesn’t have the bitterness that some chain coffees have.

And it’s not so strong that it melts your stomach lining.

Longshot Coffee-1

Photo: LA Weekly

So here is the scoop on Longshot Espresso.

Aussie, Mark Baird  relocated from Sydney to Los Angeles and discovered that our dear City of Angels didn’t have the espresso he loved and served his customers back in Australia.

He then set out on a mission to find a coffee that would not only satisfy his longing for a good bean, but to rescue Angeleno’s who have been sipping the bad stuff for so long.

He tested various roasts and beans for over a year until he found the perfect blend.

 And that would be the classic, Longshot Australian Roast.

Longshot Espresso can be ordered on-line. It’s $14 a pound which is super reasonable for a gourmet coffee.

If you are having a party, they have a mobile espresso bar!

Brilliant if you need to sober people up before they head home.

 The mobile espresso bar has also graced many a TV and movie set.
It’s the go to coffee service  for some of the best caterers and party planners out there.

If you are a simple pedestrian like me. you’re in luck, you can pick up a cup or some beans at

the Yamashiro (season starts April, 2013) or Sherman Oaks Farmer’s Market.

Or my beloved Coffee + Food.

Do it soon.

Julio’s guest starring stint is coming to an end.

Ask for the flat white.

Yum.

xoxo Yours Truly,

Pleasantly caffeinated, Carrie

Fourth of July Traditions

I love traditions especially the ones we had as a family growing up.

The Fourth of July in Central Illinois

went like this….

Parade downtown where we tried to scoop up as much candy as we could.

I loved the The Shriners in their little cars, always a highlight.

Then off to our Club for Water Games in the pool.

Then a picnic dinner in the Grove at our Club.

Same menu year after year and it never got old.

Fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs and Texas Sheet Cake

Then Sparklers and Snakes before the main event.

Then the big show!

What are your 4th of July Traditions?

Have a Great Day!

xoxo Carrie

Father’s Day


My Father, Earle “The Pearle” Johnson was one of a kind.  I am so thankful for the time I had with him.  It was short, but the love he gave me during the years he was alive will last my entire life.

To grow up with unconditional and unwavering love is a gift. Even when he wanted to wring my neck there was never any question that he  was on my side. He allowed me to have a point of view and he listened it as long as I was honest, kind, and treated others with decency.  He wasn’t a push over by any means, he was strong, stoic and thoughtful. He chose his words carefully and as a result he never regretted anything he said and I can’t recall him ever saying an unkind word to me in the heat of the moment (and trust me I pushed him to the edge.  I was a lippy teen).

  My Father had three girls and treated each of us differently because he recognized we were different people, yet he managed to make us all feel like we were treated and loved equally. He adored my Mother and respected her. He supported her freedom and allowed her to be independent even in times where many men didn’t. The equality I felt in my own home has helped me to see the equality in all people.

How do you thank the person who made you feel real love in the purest selfless form?

You try to pass it on to your own children and to set the example that was set for you.

Luckily, I found a man who would stand up to the legacy of my Father and I married him.

My daughter Caroline and I are lucky indeed.

Happy Fathers Day!