Monday, March 22, 2010

Teeny Tiny Pieces Has New Home!

Teeny Tiny Pieces Has a New Home!

It is clean and beautiful!
Until I find out how to automatically transfer you there, just click the link!

I look forward to seeing you there!
Take good care!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blogging Bootcamp!

Well, I'm very excited about doing the virtual blogging bootcamp this weekend with Leo Babauta of!  While there are already so many things I want to write about that I can't get to them all....I know I will have even more ideas when I finish this session!  In preparing for the bootcamp, I've already learned so much!  It's fun and very exciting!  Wish me luck!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Extract the Blessing"

I’m hunkered down in my meditation room tonight….the wind gave me a chill today that I’m still trying to shake. So, my feet are resting near the quiet heater, the candles are burning, and my frankincense and myrrh incense works diligently to carry my worries into the heavens.

As I sit in the quiet, I realize that I’m expending too much energy wanting for the people that I love. Wanting peace, happiness, wellness, success….for them. Too much wanting for others drains my strength. Once again I find myself searching for balance. Perhaps its like a tightrope walker on a high wire, who finds perfect balance….and with each step, must regain that balance before moving forward. It’s a natural part of his process, just as it is a natural part of our journey.

The page I read in Guidebook for the Saints and Angels helps me find balance, and peace, and to remember that all is well. “Some of the valuable qualities that you’re acquiring include strength, patience, forgiveness, and perseverance……..Once you extract the blessing within the pattern, it won’t need to repeat itself anymore.” I guess with each lesson learned, we stand a bit more steady on that high wire.

All is well, and now my feet are warm. I think I’ll have a cup of hot tea and a good night’s sleep.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"What are Teeny Tiny Pieces?"

I was giving a new friend my e-mail address last night, and she asked, “Teeny tiny pieces…what is that, what are you doing?” Well, teeny tiny pieces is a phrase I picked up from my friend, Ana…the one I just visited in Spain. Anything that’s small, or divided into sections, or that there are multiples of, Ana would call teeny tiny pieces. For example, Ana would say that a pizza is cut into teeny tiny pieces.

Well, I eventually started saying “teeny tiny pieces“, too…when I say it, I also use it when I'm talking about parts of a whole, as in all the good things that make up life. Individually, the pieces are good and worthy, but together, they make the picture complete. Teeny Tiny Pieces of Life…

By the way, did you know that there are only a handfull of paintings in St. Peters Basilica in Rome? The walls are covered with thumb-nail sized squares of marble...placed by hand into the most fantastic mosaics imaginable. Teeny tiny pieces of marble, used to create a masterpiece.

So, from Rome, back to Spain, where Ana and I were always on the lookout for photo ops of teeny tiny things, which made the trip even more fun. Thought I’d share a few of our finds with you. Hope you enjoy!

                       Ana's rooftop.  The tiny socks belong to the baby who lives in the flat above her.

Guess whomever these beautiful whites belong to won't mind my sharing them with you...

Pottery Ana and I found when we visited the White Villages of Ronda and Aracena. I left this half of the collection, as tiny a surprise for Ana to find after we were gone.

Beautiful Shoes...for the Feria de Seville!

Feria Earrings,

Ana's teeny tiny box collection

Ana's beautiful pantry!

Seville storefront

Feria flowers,

and colorful accessories for the fair.

Arabic tile in Seville.

Sweeties galore!

Streets of hand-laid stones.  I wish I'd taken a picture of the street we saw that was under construction, one stone at a time.

Teeny Tiny doorways everywhere!

More sweeties....I did NOT eat all of this!

Ana, what's this fruit called, I can't remember??  It was delicious!!
Ummmm, I think it's this a persimmon??

Beautiful babies, sliding their tiny feet in perfect rhythm with the float procession.

Beautiful Feria Dresses....this is where we bought tickets to the Flamenco show.  It was amazing!!

A protest gathering in the Plaza del Sol in Madrid.  The streets throughout Spain resonate with an incredibly passionate energy!

Bread...obv!  This is where we went to buy our bread.  Fresh and real....NO CORN! :)

Teeny tiny fish eye....up close!

A collection of pretty fishes at the market!

Still more sweeties Can you see the Boston Cream Pie looking thing on the top left shelf?! Crazy!

A collection of rabbits and birdies!  Getting hungry?

Sardines at the market...

Beautiful, clean, white!

While I may look very much like a thief caught in the act, I'm really just getting money out of my pocket to pay for the bracelets in my hand....a multitude of teeny tiny things in this stand!

Lovely fresh carrots, oranges, and bananas

Needless to say, I came home craving fresh vegetables.  The food in Spain was tremendously fresh and delicious....full of flavor and nutrition.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Courage to Change

I woke up with the blues this morning….my knee was aching, my neck was stiff, and my head was cluttered. My family was planning a New Years’ Day party in Virginia, and I wouldn’t be there. Frank and I did our morning reading, which left him wide awake and ready to go for a jog. I stayed put….slept in, telling myself that some extra rest would help my achy knee. The more I rested, the more restless, irritable, and discontent I became. So…I knew it was time to dig out my old reader, which I hadn’t seen in months.

The message, January 1, was a good one….worthy of sharing with you. “We all have dark times in our lives, but the journey to better times is often what makes us happier, stronger people….No matter what is going on around me, today I know that I am moving forward…..I will trust the process of recovery. I’ll let time take time.” (from Courage to Change)

I got up and had breakfast. I walked and Frank jogged at a nearby park, then we had a healthy lunch. A local art store, Jerrys Artarama, advertised 20% off of everything in the store, so we finished our holiday shopping, as paints were the only thing I asked for Christmas. We wound up with a beautiful palette of colors. We counted our blessings on the way home, and agreed that it’d be fine to eat the homemade soup in the fridge for the weekend….just paint, and eat soup…and write.

When we got home I took our dog, Annie, for the run in the woods I’d promised her earlier in the day. No pain in my neck or my knee, and my head was just as clear as the cool winter air. Soup for supper, the dishes are done (well, mostly), and now time to paint. Beautiful music, colors, and since I like having my painting area in the garage, the evening air will be invigorating!

A laundry list of my day, maybe. But for me, validation that I can change. I can pull my cluttered self out of the bed, and do something worthwhile. I can feed my mind and move my body. I can stimulate my senses, and read and create literature that supports my growth. I made a choice to improve my day. After all, the foundation of recovery for most of what ails us, is the willingness to change.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peace and Balance

My family knows how I long for the spirit of Christmas.   I cherish time with my family, and I will sit on the hearth in front of a roaring fire, nursing a cup of Earl Grey, until my back is red hot.   I don't enjoy shopping, but I do enjoy the lights, music, warmth, and sentimentality of the season.  This past Saturday, when much of the east coast awoke to a blanket of beautiful snow, we awoke to rain and green grass.  I wished for snow.

So, Frank and I drove west, out of our city and into the farmland covered with snow....past silos and wooly cows dotting the countryside, and lighted reindeer grazing in front of tiny farm houses.  It was beautiful, and magical, and serene.

As we drove beneath the gray skies and through the snow-covered countryside, I found myself wondering about the people in the houses.  I wondered whether they were enjoying a family meal, or whether they were old and longing for a visit from someone, anyone...whether they still worked their family land, or whether they drove into the city each day to work...whether this Christmas promised contentment or heartache. 

While I enjoyed the scene, I also found myself searching for balance.  The balance between Jingle Bells and O Holy Night, between wishes for myself and wishes for the world, between between serenity and loneliness.  The search continues.  This search requires honesty, introspection, and quiet time, in the midst of the music and holiday sale signs.  But balance is itself a gift which allows me to accept and enjoy whatever the season brings. 

While some of my friends anxiously await the homecoming of loved ones, many people in my small circle are struggling this year, with loss, worry, and pain.  I pray that each of you will seek and find balance.  Detach from the expectations of Christmas, and allow God's gentle arms to enfold you, and love to seep into your soul, until you find enough peace to carry you through. 

In the Spirit of Christmas,
Peace and Balance,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Falling in love again....with my kitchen: Learning the value of "Nourishing Traditions"

Recently, many people have asked me what I'm doing differently, and telling me how well I look.  I am flattered, and amused.  I usually wind up telling them that I've been making better choices about my food.  This is an understatement.  Most of my life I have had a strong craving for carbs, especially chocolate, pasta, and breads.  As is often true, the things we most crave are the very things we should avoid.  I'll skip the psychology...

I have suffered with headaches, inflammation, and chronic pain for many years.  In August I went to Oriental Health Solutions in Durham, and met with a new doctor, an acupuncturist, whom my husband I affectionaly refer to as Dr. Ken.  During my visit, Dr. Ken talked as much about my need for nutrition as he did about my pain.  It was refreshing to focus on something other than which body part hurt.  No x-rays, blood tests, or visits to physical therapy were ordered.  Instead, we talked about rich, delicious broths loaded with fresh, organic vegetables, and topped with butter or cream. We talked about how to find local farmers markets, and about supplementing market veggies with produce from quality food stores in our area.  We talked about real food.  My acupuncture session was painless, and my weary body began to feel a bit better.  Armed with Dr. Ken's Bone Broth/Gelatin recipe, and a book entitled Nourishing Traditions, this amazing new leg of my journey began.

By the time I left his office, I couldn't wait to make my first pot of bone broth.  I stopped on the way home and bought a huge stainless steel soup pot and a whole chicken.  Since that day I've been energized and transformed by the gift of good nutrition.  I love going to the market to buy fresh vegetables, eggs, and pasture raised chicken and beef....the most tender, delicious meats we've ever eaten.  I cook and make bone broth weekly, and add it to most meals I prepare.   Local, organic, and pasture-raised foods are available in most areas.  While these foods are not inexpensive, I have found that we eat out less, throw almost nothing away, and prepare almost all of our food at home.  We have actually realized a savings in our food costs.

Both my husband and I have lost weight since changing our eating habits.  I've also greatly reduced bloating, abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, joint, muscle, and body pain.  But the list continues to grow.  Each day or two I realize that I'm able to do something I couldn't, or that something unpleasant has vanished.  This gift, I wish I could give to everyone.

So, this is not just a food journey.  It has changed my life.  I'm guessing that some of you will appreciate this growing list of gifts I continue to realize.
Clear thinking
Clear conversation
Improved attention
Improved memory
A good night's sleep
Love of cooking
Energy for projects that I enjoy
Energy for projects that I don't really enjoy
Being able to finish a project
Delightful anticipation of going to the market each Saturday morning
Desire and ability to travel comfortably
Satisfaction of my food-preparation instincts
Being able to tell people who love me that I've had a good day, and that I'm putting together more and more good days

I have also confirmed some suspicions about foods that my body does not process well.  These I still avoid.  Some common allergens are dairy and corn.  If you have phleme in your throat after eating/drinking dairy, you might try eliminating it from your diet for a few days.  You may notice a difference, particularly with bloating or with your sinuses.  If you try re-introducing it to your diet, you may also notice that your old symptoms return.   We are virtually surrounded with corn products, so avoiding corn has proven to be a particular challenge for me.  For starters, pay attention to corn syrup, corn starch, corn chips, etc.  You may find that avoiding these products improves the way you feel.   Eating fresh whole foods has allowed me to pinpoint products that I don't tolerate.   The symptoms we feel from allergens are an extension of internal reactions that we're not aware of...the ones we can't even feel, but are very much present.

Tips for Getting Started:
This may all seem a bit overwhelming.  Start will learn, and add what works for you.

1. Find a source for local, organic of toxic chemicals, and full of nutrition.  Vegetables that travel thousands of miles before they make it to the grocery store have already lost most of their nutritional value. 

2. Choose two or three vegetables, and cook them as simply as possible. 
  • Cabbage, collards, and kale are chopped and boiled for 5-10 minutes, then drained...add butter. 
  • Tomatoes are delicious sliced and baked, with olive oil, raw cheese, salt, pepper, and fresh chopped basil.  
  • Slice parsnips and carrots into coins, and toss in olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Bake for around an hour, turning occasionally, until they're a bit crisp.  Delcious on salads, sprinkled over warm meats or veggies....I eat them like chips. 
3. Make a pot of bone broth. It's the foundation of my cooking. Bake a chicken, then follow Dr. Ken's bone broth instructions, at the bottom of this post.

4. My personal preference is to buy chicken and beef that is pasture-raised

5. I like to make my broth on the weekend, and cook several containers of vegetables.  When I get home from work it is so easy to take the containers out of the refrigrator and put whatever combination I'm in the mood for in a stainless pan, warm it up, add some cream, butter, extra broth, seasonings, and warm it for a delicious supper.  My husband absolutely loves it!

6. I found that the selection of healthy foods for lunch was limited at most restaurants, so I went to Target and bought a stainless Thermos for each of us.  In the mornings, I warm leftovers or throw a new combination into the pan, and fill our Thermos's.  It's a great and easy way to have a hot lunch every day at work.

7. I love using the book, Nourishing Traditions, with its 650 pages of recipes and vital information about the foods we currently eat, and about the foods our ancestors ate.

From Nourishing Traditions:  "The premise of this book is that modern food choices and preparation techniques constitute a radical change from the way man has nourished himself for thousands of years and, from the perspective of history, represent a fad that not only has severely compromised his health and vitality but may well destroy him; and that the culinary traditions of our ancestors, and the food choices and preparation techniques of healthy nonindustrialized peoples, should serve as the model for contemporary eating habits, even and especially during this modern technological age." (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions)

If you're inclined to try anything you've learned....or if you've learned something in your own journey that might help those of use who are just beginning, please leave a comment, or e-mail me at

No matter how well, or how unwell you are....I hope you're feeling even better soon!

Bone Broth Recipe:
Oriental Health Solutions, LLC
Durham, NC

Cover about 1.5 lbs organic bones with about 3 quarts water and bring to a simmer with 1 Tablespoon vinegar.  The vinegar helps to extract nutrients out of the bones.

It is best if you use a high end stainless steel pot (316-grade as in Saladmaster brand), glass (Pyrex or Visions) or enamel (Enamelware or LeCruset) to make your bone broth.

Cooking times:

Chicken 12 hrs (good universal bone broth)
Beef 12-24+ hrs (like chicken but heartier with stronger flavor)
Lamb/pork 12-24 hrs (has a strong flavor - not for use with some dishes)
Fish 1 hr or slightly less (an art, the right kind of fish and technique is important or you get very "fishy" broth that doesn't taste good in some dishes.)

Skim any fat that comes to the surface once the broth comes to a boil.  You may keep it for later use.

Once the simmering is complete, strain the liquid.  Remove debris and throw away the bones.  Let liquid cool on the counter.

*I freeze my broth, using quart canning jars.  Fill the jars only about 3/4 full or they may break, and wait until the broth is frozen before putting on the lid.  Keep one jar in the fridge for immediate use.  Use bone broth in soup, beans, grains, stir-fry. Liquids can be thickened with arrowroot or kudzu.

Monday, November 23, 2009

After a long day of travel.....

...tonight we returned from Spain.  My Sweet Frank took me there to see Ana, and to see Spain...but mostly to see Ana.  She is a precious gift to this world, and I am privileged to call her my dear friend.  She is a part of many things that I do today...she helps me find the courage to do things I didn't know I could.  

I'm full of gratitute for the opportunity to travel, for my wonderful husband, who spoils me as often as possible, and for my sweet sister, Julie, who has taken such good care of our doggie, Annie, while we were away. 

Spain was outrageous, and beautiful, and sweet.

Thank you, Ana, for loving us, and taking such good care of us.  Remember to drink your water!

Buenos Noches,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food, Inc. : A Disturbing Exploration of the Food Industry with Food, Inc.

I am grateful that my awareness of health-promoting (as well as health-destroying) foods continues to expand. In-general, I try to eat local and organic vegetables and eat local, pasture-raised meats. I know that my food choices have impacts that reach far beyond my kitchen table. This awareness and these habits are part of my amazing evolution. I can’t explain how I’ve learned what I know, other than to say it’s the result of my quest for wholeness, via my desperate search for wellness. I don’t claim to be an expert, but am learning that everything that I eat has a profound effect on the way I feel, and the way I live.

So, when my son recommended the documentary, “Food, Inc.”, I popped it into my Netflix que and waited patiently for November 3, the DVD release date.….got it today and watched it this evening. Director Robert Kenner takes us on a disturbing exploration of the big food industry, and the plight of American farmers who are trying to do the right thing. For those of you looking for a healthier lifestyle, or who are open to learning more about eating locally and organically, the movie provides plenty of information and motivation for making positive changes in your food habits.

Hope you’ll check out the website and the trailer.  /
Please also pass this information to friends and's that important. 

Take good care,

PS If you like Food Inc., you might also like the documentary “Super Size Me”….similarly compelling, with a bit of humor.

Have you seen Food, Inc.?  What did you think?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunshine and Blue Skies

Aaaahhh, three of my favorite things....sunshine, blue skies, wildflowers......and fresh air, and hiking with my dog, Annie. Yeah, more than three things, but I've never been good at picking favorites.  In-general, I like them all! Annie is a fun and faithful hiking buddy, and hiking together recently was particularly invigorating.

We hadn't been for a hike in several weeks...not since my unfortunate encounter with a nest of ticks in the woods.  (Just so that I don't sound like such a baby, I'll let you know that it involved hundreds of tiny ticks...the tiniest ones I've ever seen.)  I knew I needed to get over that little inkling of tick-phobia that was keeping me from venturing back through the tall grasses and the shady we went for a long hike, and it was glorious!

The October sky was crisp and blue.  The canopy of green leaves that envelopes our peaceful sanctuary fed left-over rain drops to the forest floor.  The path of leaves was soft and silent under my feet.  A sloping carpet of bright green moss caught the morning sunlight at such an angle that it presented a spectacular and vibrant show. 

Autumn in North Carolina brings an incredibly unexpected palette of wildflower color, and each tiny flower face soaks up any bit of warmth it can get on these cool days, reaching for the heavens and turning its smiling face toward the sun.  I stop, reach for the heavens, close my eyes, and turn my face toward the sun, doing my best to clear my busy mind of any thought....enjoying the moment, the sunshine, the freedom of this place.  The sun acknowledges my gesture, and gracefully grants the gifts that I seek. 

My body warms from the sunshine, and from the walking.  My joints begin to move more freely.  While I am here, the chrysalis which my body has become accustomed to carrying around becomes pliant, giving-in to an overwhelming sense of wholeness. This emergence carries into the rest of my day, allowing me to more fully appreciate the moments that make up my day, the moments that make up my life.  With each hike, my chrysalis seems a bit more forgiving.  I know that one day soon, it will be removed completely.

Gratitude and happiness.  There are few emotions I can pinpoint more precisely when I'm hiking...and there are few places that so freely allow my unconditional acceptance of this peace.  I often think of Forrest Gump when I'm out walking.  Forrest started running, and it felt so good, that he just kept going.  When I'm in community with nature, it feels so good that I really don't want to stop.

Annie is, of-course, part of this community.  Bounding through the fields of wildflowers and stopping to drink from the clear streams, she forges ahead, reporting back that all is well.  Her congruence with my sense of propulsion draws me deeper into the forests, further into the tall grasses, and fields of wildflowers.  We are moving, healing, and growing.  We are both happy girls when we're in the woods.  Annie's happiness is evidenced by her big-old happydog tongue in her picture.  Mine, by the energy I have to pour into new projects, like writing.

Thanks for reading.  I hope you have an opportunity soon to spend some time on a crisp autumn day with the sunshine, the wildflowers, and maybe a four-legged friend who'll show you the way, letting you know that all is well.


Find places to hike with your dog at
If you have a good resource for places to take dogs off-leash, please share with the rest of us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Teeny Tiny Pieces of Asheville : Early Girl Eatery, Asheville City Market, and "Our" Studio Apartment

After a long drive last night, and a good night's sleep, we awakened in Asheville this morning, ready to soak up all the unique gifts of this town. We’re staying at our ‘in-town’ place….of-course we have our ‘place in the mountains’, too. Not really ours, but we enjoy them both as if they were.

Frank had been anticipating Early Girl strawberry-banana pancakes for weeks, maybe months...but they weren't on the specials board this morning.  We both ordered omelets, mine was a black bean omlet, and to be honest, I was so busy enjoying mine, that I'm not sure which omelet he ordered.  I know that they were both delicious, along with fresh sliced tomatoes, bacon, sour cream, and fried potatoes. The food was incredible, the girls who took exceptional care of us were great, and as always, a bit quirky. What a fun place to enjoy local, organic food!

I grabbed an industrial-sized spoon, which serves as a keychain for the restroom key, from the hook.  As I walked down the hallway toward the restroom to rinse the fresh blackberry jam from my fingertips, I stopped to read an article which was posted on the wall, about our waitress. As I stood reading, the spoon, now dangling as I held the key in my hand, began to spin clockwise…I drink in the life-energy of this place.

We were also in search of some fresh veggies, so we asked the hostess who was giving coffee refills where to find the farmers market. “Which one?”, she asked. She happily directed us to the best places to find local organic produce, and even wrote down driving directions for us on orange sticky notes…. precious.

The city farmers market was a sensory haven. The produce fresh and colorful, the people warm and friendly…full of smiles, a bluegrass band played at the far end of the market. The smells of salmon and sausage samples floated through the morning air as a light rain began to fall, cooling our skin….dampening our sweatshirts and invigorating our spirits.

So we are back in our little studio apartment home away from home now….resting up before we head out to visit a local artist….an artist who will probably never know how profoundly he has changed our lives.  More about Jonas another time.

Do you know of neat places I can add to my list to visit, eat, browse in Asheville?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Few television events attract my attention enough to land on my list of things to do.  When I took a recent leave of absence for six weeks, I never turned the television on.  But this week I have plans to watch TV for 2 hours each night.  The National Parks: America's Best Idea is on public television.

It's the story of the parks and of people.  The story of John Muir, and others who felt so passionately about the the preservation of our land that they spent their lives fighting to save it. The story of real people, who could only find respite, healing, and recovery in wilderness. It's also the story of the displacement of Native Americans, and the replacement of animals, with the creation of the parks.   So if you're reading this during the week of September 27, stop reading now, and go to the link above to find out when you can watch.

The episodes are two commercial-free hours, and I confess that I sometimes feel like I need a break, to breathe and to process all that I've seen and heard during the show.  If I comment to my husband, "Can you imagine" or "How beautiful", I miss tiny pieces that make this series "There is of-course no sense at all in trying to describe the Grand Canyon."

I have been lucky enough to spend time in many of our national parks, both during childhood and in recent years with my husband.  My father is a master traveler, and I'm afraid I got the travel bug from him.  Our family trips are among my most cherished memories.  The experiences have been life-changing...but I'll save that for another day.  For now I've got to go...I'm missing the show!

Jane (Dec. 2009) the series is availbe for viewing at the National Parks site given above.

Which National Park would you most love to visit...or visit again?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pass It On

A restlessness simmers, just under the surface of my being. The need to create, the need to move, the need to heal. These needs are intrinsic for me. So I search for outlets, and answers, and ultimately, I generate more questions than I answer. But the abundance of questions excites and propels me. I'm thrilled about creating an outlet to feed my own needs, in the form of this blog, Teeny Tiny Pieces.

I am eager to share the things that make me grow and heal....things that give me strength and bring me to the next level of wholeness. In doing this, perhaps I'll also share some of the things that have brought me pain. It's my experience that I do my best growing when I'm in the most pain. When new needs arise, I search for answers. Kind-of like necessity being the mother of invention.

My ultimate goal is to feed that part of you that craves wholeness...relief from this amazing and imperfect world. So check in with me from time to time. Leave your comments and I'll do my best to respond to them. Let me know what you think, and what you'd like to hear more about. I believe the journey is unending, for all of us. I'm hoping that as we pick up the pieces along this path, we'll each glean something unique from the experience...and pass it on.