Mold, Coffee and Self Love

So we discovered a leak under our kitchen sink earlier this month. Sadly we hadn’t discovered it soon enough to prevent mold. Not wanting to expose the little ones to any potential mold exposure we moved into a hotel. Luckily for us, we checked in the day before the Hill and Woolsey Fire broke out. One more day and we’d have found no hotel room. Given that we were likely here for a little of a long haul, we were very lucky to have found a two bedroom two bath suite at the local Residence Inn complete with daily breakfast included. Needless to say the kids were ecstatic.


So while on vacation I usually will indulge in drinking caffeinated coffee. You see my hubby is an amazing brewer of coffee. And well, let’s face it. Illy Italian coffee is the real deal.

So for the first 3-4 days we both woke up and enjoyed an absolutely delicious cup of coffee.

On day 5, I started to notice that I was hypersensitive to sounds. Everything was irritating me. I didn’t sleep very well that night either. Never fell into a deep sleep. I felt every toss and turn that Jason made (he obviously wasn’t sleeping well either). He was breathing too loudly, tossing too much, tugging at the sheets when he did…you get the picture- everything annoyed me.

And yet- what he was doing wasn’t new behavior. He was a super light sleeper, prone to waking up at o’dark hundred and then tossing and turning, or reading till he put himself back to sleep.

What was different was my response to it.

My response was different because I had introduced something into my chemistry that I usually never consume.

Heavily caffeinated coffee.

No noticeable difference the first couple days.

But then, the caffeine started to build up.

And started to alter my chemistry.

Which manifest in new behaviors.

Which if unchecked could have (and definitely has in the past) been unhealthy to our relationship. Staying in close quarters for an extended period of time, and going to work and continuing business as usual. It could have been disastrous!

The next day when he asked if I wanted coffee, I declined. And told him why.

Interestingly I observed that it had affected him too. Even though he DOES have caffeinated coffee daily. Just one cup of good espresso made into a short latte.

He was impatient about practically everything.

Because I had acknowledged my own irritation and recognized it early on.

Because I had checked it.

Because I had shared it with him.

I was now able to remove my emotions from the conversation and gently remind him that he too was experiencing symptoms as a result of the coffee.

His knee jerk response was ‘it’s not the coffee.’ But he knew better.

And I knew he knew.

So let’s just speculate how this would have gone down, had we NOT addressed this early on.

  • I would have woken up that first day of being irritable with very poor sleep and snapped at him for every toss and turn. I would have admonished him to be more sensitive to me. That if he couldn’t sleep, the least he could do is let ME sleep.
  • Lack of sleep would have led me to have less bandwidth to be gentle and compassionate with his impatience.
  • So when he snapped at me for the slightest, I would have snapped right back.
  • We would have likely blamed each other for whatever inconsequential thing was causing us to be irritated with each other.
  • And pretty soon, full blown war of the roses!
  • And unchecked this would have continued.
  • And in the close quarters that we are, our kids would have been fully exposed to behaviors and words from us that would have been potentially damaging.

So often in our relationships that falter we fail to be able to see our role early on to nip it in the bud. It’s so easy to assign blame to someone else or somewhere outside ourselves. Especially when life throws a curveball and we are hoisted from our comfort and regularity of actions. One of my mentors used to say ‘you can’t see your own eyebrows.’ Meaning you need others to point out certain things to you about yourself. You can’t see it for yourself.

So how do you become self-aware so that you can catch yourself in the act of being an a$$?

  1. Meditation helps you to center and ground yourself. It also helps you to not take yourself too seriously.
  1. Developing self-discipline helps you to develop body and mind awareness. This simply means having small daily actions that you do for yourself NO MATTER WHAT.
  2. Having an attitude of gratitude for the small things. Whisper thanks the next time you get a sweet parking spot. When coincidences happen, or when mold causes you to have to leave home for an extended period of time, say thank you that you caught it early enough for it to be just 3 weeks out of the house instead of 3 months. You get the idea. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining if we look for it.
  • Let’s face it we all make well intentioned resolutions for ourselves at the start of a new year. Most often these fall off before January 15. What we don’t realize is that when we allow ourselves off the hook that way (and we usually have the best of reasons) we are sending a subliminal message to ourselves that says we’re not worth it. That work, family obligations or even new volunteer efforts are more important that maintaining a commitment to ourselves. And if you think about it, that’s probably not the first time you have allowed yourself to be put on the back burner.
  • How can that be good for self esteem?

    If we’re a parent, what message are we sending our kids?

    If we’re in a partnership/marriage/relationship…how can we expect our significant other to respect us, if we don’t respect ourselves enough to follow through on our word?

    We teach people how to treat us by the way we behave.

    What are you teaching people?

    To love and respect you and acknowledge your contribution with gratitude.


    To think of you as SO dependable that you’ll do anything for them, even at the cost of your own health and sanity.

    Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s self love. Self love is good for you. And it’s particularly good for the people you love, the community you serve and the world you are changing.

    Your Kids Are Watching Put On A Good Show

    So both my kids are swimming now. My 11yo is on the local swim team and swims 3x a week for 45min and my 7yo is still going through the levels classes for stroke development etc. Needless to say, their swim times DO NOT overlap and so yes, I either get to spend 3 hours at the pool or do two visits to the pool. I choose the latter. Luckily the pool is 8 minutes from home.

    My 7yo has 3 more levels to go before he can try out for swim team, and then the times should overlaps and my time spent at the pool will drop drastically.

    So last week was the end of level 3 and we waited eagerly to see if he graduated to level 4. I was sitting poolside reading (The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama— highly recommend btw!) and I observed a couple sitting a couple seats over from me. He was immersed in his phone, she– absolutely gorgeous with beautiful poker straight long hair looked practically angry. Her little 6yo adorable girl was in the same class as my 7yo.

    Class ended and I asked if he graduated. He didn’t know yet. I quickly toweled him off, and he and I both skipped our way to the coach to get the verdict. “He’s really close!” She said somewhat apologetically. “Yay babe, did you hear that, you’re almost there!” Was my response. “We need to re do level 3 one more time. It’ll be done in no time!”

    We walk back to our things, I start to change him. Gorgeous long haired girl has report in hand for her 6yo and I’m dying to ask her whether she moved up. But something holds me back from being my usual social self. It’s that look.

    She still hasn’t softened her look. Uh oh, the 6yo mustn’t have graduated either. She still looks mad! Husband is still immersed in his phone.

    So after changing, we go to the entrance to register for another round of level 3. I had already registered him for level 4 in anticipation of him moving up, so I just have to move him back down to 3. Gorgeous lady is in front of me. She lets the front desk people know that she wants to register her daughter for level 4, as she has just graduated.


    Your daughter moved up, but you haven’t smiled once?

    Yes i know I’m being judgy here — I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and I ought not to make assumptions.

    I practically high-fived my boy for a job well done.

    He has come SO FAR!

    He was so intimidated by the pool. And now he’s doing dives and jumps off the diving board and even attempted the big curly slide. Something he would have NEVER done ordinarily.

    So much progress!

    I don’t care that he will redo level 3.

    It just means that he’ll excel when he gets to the next level and the next after that.

    But honestly lady!

    Smile at your kid.

    At least when you’re interacting with her.

    And definitely when she just graduated to the higher level of swim.

    This really got the wheels turning for me.

    Our kids are hyper-observant about what we do and say.

    It’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do.

    So what do you do?

    • Are they seeing/hearing you bicker a lot?
    • Do they hear you talk abruptly or rudely frequently?
    • Do you talk to your friends around them as if they aren’t there?
    • Do you complain a lot?
    • Do you cut people off or flip them off or rant in traffic?
    • How do you treat service staff?
    • Do you open doors?
    • Help little old ladies?
    • Ignore the homeless person who’s panhandling? Or use it as a point of conversation to teach them a life lesson?
    • How much do they see you on your phone? I think of this a lot– if they see me on my phone constantly- then when they do get their own phones – how can I ask them to minimize time on theirs?
    • Do they see you smile or frown a lot?

    You get the picture?

    Nature vs. Nurture here right? And in this case a little bit of both.

    If you are constantly a certain way- especially if it’s habitual – how can you expect your kids to be different?

    Kindness, smiling, managing our emotions, making good choices are all traits that can be learned. Leadership starts with leading ourselves.

    These are hard to focus on when we’re constantly tired, when we’re working long hours, when work deadlines are piling up.

    It’s easy to zone out and do what comes easiest- which is to possibly be short fused or snap or be irritable when they’re annoying you.

    But it’s in those moments in particular that we need to push past the pain of discipline and become super aware of our thoughts, words, actions and beliefs.

    After all we aren’t raising kids.

    We are raising our next generation political leaders, business owners, community advocates and professionals.

    But most of all, hopefully we are raising kind, compassionate and gentle men and women with a heart for their community and a commitment to do good in the world.

    Your kids are watching more than you know.

    Put on a good show.

    Days 3, 4 and 5 – there are no shortcuts

    RisottoSo ends the first five days of my cleanse. I fared well. I had a couple slips– a bite of bread when we went to Daphne’s Grill for dinner tonight, the most delectable chocolate ball by Lindt… Hazelnut truffle! but other than that I did rather well. I treated myself to a gluten free lemon scented risotto with seared scallops and green beans At the Blue Stove in the Thousand Oaks Nordstrom- possibly my favorite restaurant in the Conejo Valley.

    All week I managed to create some rather delicious gluten free dishes for my family, thanks to the amazing support of the Facebook group thats supporting this program. Yesterday I ran out of time to cook, and resorted to an old standard– linguini with vodka cream sauce…something that needs 5 ingredients and can be cooked in 20min. But luckily I had quinoa, sautéed spinach and mushrooms and pan-seared chicken breast finished in the oven- but of course like any cook, I had to taste the food I cooked and holy cow it was delicious! But my meal was awesome too.

    Seared Ahi Tuna salad
    Seared Ahi Tuna salad

    Today my friend Deanne took me to lunch to celebrate my transition from W2 to 1099! I had the most delicious seared Ahi tuna salad with mixed greens, daikon sprouts, carrots and tomatoes. I made sure to eat all the tuna first and sure enough it was so filling that I couldn’t finish the salad. A-ha! My stomach is shrinking already. A week or two ago, I’d have no trouble eating the whole thing. The cleanse is working, my stomach is shrinking.

    Today an interesting thing happened — I was on my way to meet with a friend in Malibu at the Starbucks in my old stomping grounds– I got my MBA at Pepperdine 13 years ago. There’s a traffic light by the school entrance where you can take a short cut to the mart by turning left but you can’t do that till after 9am. It was 8:56am, and the memory of the ticket I got for not paying attention to the time as a sleep deprived MBA student is still fresh Even 13 years later. So I crossed the light, and for not taking that shortcut I was rewarded with the beautiful vision of 6-7 deer grazing on the grass at Alumni Park. I was in the wrong lane to pull over, nevertheless I said a silent prayer of gratitude at the vision that started my morning well– my reward today for not taking a shortcut. The entire day went amazingly well. I spent time with good friends, then with my little girl alone, then with both my kids at Daphne’s. We laughed a lot today! Now I’m snuggled near my husband with the fireplace candles, watching a movie with half an eye as I write this. Life is Perfect!

    Tonight i send to you my wish — I wish for you the complete peace I felt today. I wish for you the chance to stop and smell the roses or see the deer as the case may be!

    Sending you you all love and light from a heart filled with love


    Day 4 of Giving Thanks

    I’m grateful for my two incredibly adorable kids. My 6yo daughter is smart, funny and beautiful! She challenges status quo constantly (already!) and is the best big sister anyone could hope to have! My 2yo son said to me yesterday ‘I yove you mommy!’ He’s known to grab my face in his little hands and plant a kiss on me. When he wraps his little arms around my neck in a hug all the world’s problems disappear.

    Falling off the wagon but not hitting the ground hard!

    So this past weekend, I had family come to visit. My husband being the amazing cook/bbq-er that he is smoked ribs and made buffalo chicken wings, grilled zucchini and smashed potatoes! Our house was filled with 6 children including mine, ages ranging from 2 – 14! Talk about needing a glass of wine! BUT – no actually I didn’t fall off the wagon there. Nope, I am not in recovery – if you remember, I talked recently about the Arbonne 30 day fit kit – well the first no no on the list of no nos is alcohol! The goal of this program is to help you naturally cleanse your system of foods that are allergenic, addictive and acidic (caffeine, milk etc.) and so there’s a list of foods that you must abstain from for the 30 day period. It’s not to have you NEVER eat/drink those foods again – rather it’s just to rid your body of them for 30 days so you can see how it responds, when you re-introduce them into your body one at a time after the 30 days are up – much like you would introduce new foods to a 6 month old baby! One at a time, to see the reaction. For some of my clients, they’ve discovered gluten is bloating, for others they realized the headaches they were having were related to dairy or gluten, and for yet others there was no difference except a ‘lightness’ when they eliminated these allergenic, addictive and acidic foods. Leave a comment with your email address for the entire list if you’d like to have it.

    Anyway – so here I am, 2 weeks into this program and doing rather well I might add…no temptations for bread, pasta, peanut butter, caffeine…and then along comes this BBQ from the heavens! Well – there’s nothing better to drink with a BBQ meal than beer…so I allowed myself ONE of my absolute favorite beers – Abbey Leffe, Blonde. I didn’t over eat the ribs and chicken like I usually would have – not because I didn’t want to, but only because 2 weeks of being on this program and my stomach has shrunk so that 2 ribs and 2 small chicken wings and 1 spear of zucchini is all I could take on after my beer. My 10 year old niece did a better job demolishing the chicken than I did! I had made gluten free, dairy free brownies for the allergic kids, and so that was the perfect compliment to the meal! I got to eat a piece without feeling guilty- gluten and dairy are both on the NO list! (so is sugar, but again, I just had a small piece).

    The next day, we went roller skating! Now, I haven’t been on skates in 20 years but it came back as easily as if I had been skating daily for years! It was so much fun, didn’t feel like exercise and it was a great social/physical activity to do with 6 kids with boundless energy! After 90 minutes of skating, Coldstone Creamery seemed to be the obvious next choice! Here we go again – temptation…so I ordered a dark chocolate peppermint ice cream with almonds, brownie and coconut shavings (try it if you haven’t it is absolutely divine!); but then proceeded to share that with my dad, my brother and my son! So I am lucky if I got two bites…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I learned that it was OK to fall off the wagon, as long as you didn’t hit the ground too hard! I did the things I wasn’t supposed to do, but I did them in moderation.

    • Depriving yourself makes matters worse – when your body wants something, give into the craving – but just don’t over do it! If you want dessert and don’t have anyone to share it with – take a few bites and then sprinkle salt or pepper over the rest, thereby ruining it for yourself. (learned that from my mentor!)
    • Don’t be a party-pooper! – whether it’s a party you’re attending/hosting, or when you have family in town like I did – people who don’t visit often, you want to enjoy their company, and we are such a food society that a lot of our celebrations happen around food! Enjoy it – just within limits.
    • Get back on the wagon as soon as possible – So I knew that the weekend was one of eating things off the NO list – the moment they left, I went right back on to the YES list and made sure that I stayed committed to my program.
    • Do away with the guilt – If you’re going to ‘cheat’ enjoy it! Don’t eat every morsel with remorse or guilt. You’re ruining the experience for yourself, and the vibe you’ll give your guests is one that they’re the reason you’re miserable. Instead, embrace the foods, and savor every bite – appreciate the fact that you are eating foods that have been off limits to you and let the flavors linger in your mouth (another great way to ensure you don’t over eat).


    Do you do ME time?


    So, the kids have been out of school since December 20 and we’ve had some serious fun these past couple of weeks…a mellow Christmas and New Year meant that we were feeling pretty rejuvenated; got some good projects done around the house, but also made time for play dates in the park, dinner with extended family and even afternoon naps (remember those?) – however being a mom to a nearly 6 and nearly 2 year old who decided during this break that he was no longer going to nap made for pretty active days…quiet time was sort of a joke!

    I started work on the 2nd, but my daughter doesn’t start school till the 7th, so she came along with me wherever I went. My son reluctantly went back to daycare.

    Today started as a usual day – however by 9.30 am it was pretty evident to me that I needed a break from everyone including my kids! I really needed a day away from people in general. I was on people overload! I wanted time to think, day dream, sit, enjoy coffee while it was still hot and oh yes…get my nails done without worrying that my daughter’s “nail polish train” at the salon wasn’t going to result in nail polish art splashed all over the floor. So I dropped off the little boy to daycare, and dropped off the little girl to her grandmother! (thanks Ma!!). I had one appointment which blissfully got canceled and then I had this glorious, sunny, warm Southern California day all to myself.

    I had a lot of work to do, but I knew that I would be a lot more productive if I just took an hour or so to do nothing – so I took myself up to my gorgeous barely used sun room – left my phone where I couldn’t hear it vibrate or buzz and just sat on my barely used (cat occupied) couch. I went on a stroll through the boardwalk of my mind, allowing the soft breeze caress my face, listening to the sound of the ocean crash along the shore of my mind’s eye. I tried to recollect the last time I had done this, and I couldn’t. Thoughts of work, family, kids and commitments also popped into my head – I gently acknowledged them, and nudged them back out.

    A while later, I was so rejuvenated from my mental beach walk that I powered through an intense project and then decided that my nails could use some attention. It turns out that the last time I paid them any attention was over 3 months ago! YIKES!

    By the time I picked up my kids, I was so excited to see them – as though I hadn’t seen them for days! We had a really fun evening playing together.

    So do your family a favor – tell them you need a break from them and go do something that is purely, strictly, exclusively, solely for YOU! They’ll appreciate it!