Category Archives: Stacy Alexander

Spring has Sprung…and I’m busy!

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The last few weeks have been crushingly busy work-wise, but fun and satisfying at the same time. When things get like this, however, I do very little other than work and take care of my family. That said, I am eagerly anticipating a vacation in Napa coming up for most of next month, where I will be working on my retreat business, but still conducting research, doing my writing and fact checking….so I’m not sure how much of a vacation it will actually be, but the change of scenery will be inspiring….not that I NEED a change of scenery. Portland gets better and more beautiful by the day. Right now, it is an explosion of beautiful color bursting from the trees and gardens around the city, and it smells divine!

Anyway…I just wanted to drop a line and say hey. More substance at a later date. Cheers!

REPUBLICAN GROUP WILL RUN AD ON FOX NEWS URGING GOP TO HOLD TRUMP ACCOUNTABLE: ‘NO EXONERATION, DEFINITELY OBSTRUCTION’

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By Christina Zaho – Newsweek

Republicans for the Rule of Law, a conservative group whose stated purpose is “defending the institutions of our republic,” will run an advertisement on Fox News over the weekend to urge GOP lawmakers to hold Trump accountable for the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The highly anticipated 448-page report, with redactions, was released by Attorney General William Barr Thursday morning. The nearly two-year investigation resulted in 199 criminal charges, indicting 34 individuals—including six former Trump associates and three Russian companies.

While Mueller’s team did not accuse the president of a crime, it revealed ample evidence of wrongdoing by Trump and his inner circle, dating from his 2016 presidential campaign through his tenure in the Oval Office. 

“It’s clear from the report today that there’s a lot of political interference that was attempted [by Trump],” Sarah Longwell, executive director of Republicans for the Rule of Law, told Newsweek. “This is not the end of the Mueller investigation, this is just the beginning. It looks like the Mueller report really is a road map for Congress. And that there was no exoneration, definitely obstruction.”

The group, which aims to “protect [Mueller’s] investigation from political interference by the president,” was established in March 2017 when reports began to emerge of Trump’s intentions to potentially fire Mueller. The documents released today revealed that Trump had indeed tried to dismiss Mueller in June 2017, but that then-White House counsel Don McGahn refused, saying he would rather resign.

Over the weekend, Republicans for the Rule of Law plan to air an advertisement on Fox News urging GOP lawmakers to hold Trump accountable for “lying” and “obstructing justice,” as Republicans did with President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, when a GOP-led House succesfully impeached Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The Senate subsequently acquitted Clinton of all charges.

“The Mueller Report revealed multiple instances of President Trump lying and obstructing justice. Twenty years ago, Republicans denounced a Democratic president for lying and obstructing justice,” the 34-second advertisement’s opening reads, before cutting to old clips of GOP lawmakers condemning Clinton on Capitol Hill. “Republicans stood for the rule of law then. We should stand for the rule of law now,” the ad concludes.

The advertisement’s goal, according to Longwell, is to “encourage speaking up from Republicans.”

“They need to grapple with what’s in [the Mueller report], which is incredibly disturbing,” she said. “We’re not urging impeachment or any kind of action other than Congress, specifically Republicans, should join the Democrats, to investigate the matter for fully and come to some conclusion about accountability.”

Within the clip is footage of “Republicans talking about how you cannot lie to the American people, you cannot obstruct justice, you must tell the truth, that the president’s not above the law and we just believe those same rules very much still apply to this president,” said Longwell, adding that the group wanted to see Republicans “act like a congressional body with equal powers and to provide a check on a president, who clearly from this report does not respect the rule of law.”

Mueller explained in the report that his team could not establish that either Trump or his associates had conspired with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The investigation did not conclude that Trump had obstructed justice, “largely because” his aides “declined to carry out orders.” But it did not exonerate the president.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the Mueller report stated. “We are unable to reach such a judgment.”

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” 

Despite this, Attorney General Barr held a press conference Thursday morning in which he repeated the words “no collusion,” at least five times in 22 minutes. “There was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking,” Barr said.

How things are going…

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A singular dark cloud exists over my head at this point in my life. It is a life or death cloud, and one over which I have no control. It doesn’t even involve me, actually, other than the fact that I am related to the person it effects, and I wouldn’t even be mentioning it except for the fact that it creeps into my mind at the most inopportune times and causes anxiety or sadness. However, I am quick to take the steps to get it all under control and to regain my composure, whether that means working it off at the gym, or reaching out to a friend for help.

I just passed the 3rd anniversary of a very traumatic event that occurred in a nearby state. The event was so dangerous and life-threatening that I blocked it out of my mind for weeks after it happened, but when I finally recalled it, I had to undergo PTSD treatment for over a year. I’m fine now. I still get anxious or even depressed when I think about what happened, but I always turn to gratitude and forgiveness when I try to cope, and that really helps. When faced with a life-threatening situation, you don’t just shed the trauma as though it never existed. You learn to integrate it into your life into a less harmful way. Then, it settles in and eventually fades, but can still be recalled. I have forgiven the meth addict that tried to harm me. I feel empathy for him. I refuse to allow him to take over my life and emotions any longer. I am free of him.

Everything else is great.

The retreat business program that I enrolled in is one of the most fascinating endeavors I have ever undertaken. Every time I enter the class portal, I exit having learned more than I could have hoped to learn. The format is stimulating, the material is fascinating and I’m convinced (based on nothing) that the instructors are the best in the business. I love this course, but it is difficult. It takes up a lot of my time, and the homework is intense and difficult….but I struggle through it, and I come out on the other side feeling more secure about where this business is going. THIS is what I was meant to do, and I am finally reaching my goals.

I now have a few coaching clients that pay me with regularity, and I put all that money back into the retreat business. I have a variety of other jobs that ebb and flow, and these funds help, as well. For instance, this morning, I recorded 230 examples of my voice/accent that will be used in certain electronic devices that respond to commands. Next on my plate, comes writing a catalog of jewelry descriptions. I have been hired to fact check another political issue that will take a couple of weeks to research, but that pays well. I also still do my 4-hour fact-checking/verification job for social media each day as well. I have a long editing job, too, and am still writing articles. These are the things that sustain me and keep me afloat while I approach my creative projects…..the things that provide my enthusiasm for life in general.

I am working on an art installation based on stringed instruments for a conference that occurs each year here in the Pacific Northwest. I have completed a mosaic guitar, and am now working on a smaller mixed media piece. This is a difficult piece that has taken a lot of planning, but I feel confident that it’s going to work out well for me. I’m taking a whole new approach to my art that is really paying off, and I am beginning to make a lot more money with it. My work has reached the point of being more in demand. I am asked to make commissions more often, and receive inquiries more than I used to. I have turned a corner.

I am also making great progress on my novel. I write for 2 hours each morning regardless of what else I have going on that day. It even comes before work deadlines. I have been working on this novel for too many years. I realized that it was more a running narrative in which I vented that a truly cohesive literary work, so I revamped the story, and find that it now flows easily, from my mind to my fingertips on the keyboard. It is unfolding in a delightful way, and I am pleased with the work.

I am with my husband because of writing. He courted me with his own beautiful poetry, and I him, with my own. We have both published work, and we both feel passionate about writing . We have both run writing workshops, and we both love to talk about it with one another. Writing is the glue that binds us.

John and I have distinctively different writing styles. He usually bases his writing on historical literary works, although some of his plays and other writing are based on his personal experiences, primarily from his days living in Pittsburgh, and working as a city planner and theater critic. My work is based on people that I have encountered.

I study people…their habits, their manners of speaking, their approaches to life. I was a Psychology major. I am fascinated by human behavior, and it is by reaching out to people that I would normally not befriend, that I cultivate my characters. I never write about any one person from my real-life experiences. Rather, I take elements from each and combine them into a cohesive and believable character.

There is the man that I know…a priest and college professor that had an affair with one of my girlfriends in college. Oh, what a juicy story THAT was…but it is one with which I would use great caution when characterizing in writing . There are the conventional mice, the boorish narcissists, the non-creative artists, the untalented talent…..there are just SO MANY characters on this earth! Life is a vast treasure trove of learning and information, and sometimes, you don’t even have to leave your own home to experience it.

I am usually quite when I’m around the people that I include in my character sketches. I make mental notes about their behaviors and I use them later in my writing. Sometimes, genuine friendships develop. Other times, I learn of darknesses that are delicious to write about, but that I feel disdain for in reality, and do not actually want near any real aspect of my life. I tend to go along with them and listen to them, but in my heart of hearts and in my brain, I struggle. Sometimes I get defensive, but I try not to. It’s all research, I keep telling myself……and it is.

Magisto

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Magisto is a video editing app that used to be useful, user-friendly and fun. The current version now costs almost $30 a month to use, is overly complicated and I can only produce rubbish on it. Big disappointment!

This is a quick sample video I did. Very disappointed in all aspects of this app. Definitely canceling my subscription.

President Obama-America’s Most Admired Man 11 Years in a Row!

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How many times has Donald Trump been named “Most Admired Man of the Year”? Let’s see…Is it this year? Was it last year…the year before? Never. Not once. Not even close. Rasmussen, a poll that virtually ALWAYS leans to the right hasn’t even shown him as MAMOTY! Nope.

For 11 years…..more than an entire decade…. it has been Barack Obama.

Click here for story…

Vegan “tuna” Salad

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I’ve made this vegan tuna salad for years. However, I tossed in a new ingredient into this batch that kicked it up a notch or two….hot, sweet, pickled jalapeños from Trader Joe’s. Wow! It was delicious!

This recipe uses finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla. I also finely chop two stalks of celery and sweet peppers. I add fresh dill, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper…lots of it. Next comes fresh Meyer lemon juice, vegan sour cream, vegan mayo, homemade pickle relish and finally, 2cups if garbanzos, smashed. I finish it off with a tiny bit of onion salt and pile it onto one of my homemade hoagie rolls, butter lettuce and heirloom tomato, add some roasted rosemary potatoes on the side ….and voila!

It’s absolutely delicious. Even my carnivorous friends and family members love these hearty sandwiches.

Polished off the meal with bruised strawberries in a balsamic reduction with fresh mint. Perfection.

Trump’s Legal Woes Are just Getting Started

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Watching the right wingers rejoicing at Trump’s self-proclamation of exoneration within minutes of special counsel specifically stating he had NOT been exonerated is kinda sad….for them….but not for America. Because the right only hears news from one or two Trump-promoting websites, they are STILL unaware that Robert Mueller sent most of the obstruction cases were sent over to the Southern District, where Trump is legally helpless to manipulate his way out of them, since he has zero legal jurisdiction. Bwahaha! This will be a real shocker, because they don’t see it coming. It was strategic. It went right over their heads.

The closure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election does NOT mark the end of legal worries for Trump and people close to him. Not by a longshot. Other continuing investigations and litigation are focusing on issues including his businesses and financial dealings, personal conduct, charitable foundation and inaugural committee. This will be that which ends him.

Think about it. Mueller charged 34 people and three companies. Some of those cases resulted in guilty pleas, and one case went to trial, with former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort convicted of eight criminal counts, including bank fraud and tax fraud. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted in January of this year and pleaded not guilty, but his trial is still pending. There are other cases involving indicted Russians that have not gone to trial. Other prosecutors within the Justice Department will likely take over criminal cases begun by Mueller.

Donald Trump is horrible for America.

Trump will face significant dents in his current jubilation from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to the legal experts viewing these cases. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump’s business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District investigation.

Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump’s direction, “hush money” payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s candidacy. Both women established that they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago,during his marriage to Melania, soon after the birth of their son, Baron. (As an aside, I have challenged my social media readers to document even ONE DAY that Trump has EVER dedicated to this child since he was born. ONE SINGLE DAY…..and not one person has been able to do that.)

Prosecutors said the payments constituted ILLEGAL campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.

The New York District investigation has involved longtime Trump ally David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper, who admitted to paying McDougal for the rights to her story and then suppressing it to influence the election, an arrangement called “catch and kill.”

Cohen has already said he was in “constant contact” with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, and said other crimes and wrongdoing by Trump are being investigated by them. Trump WILL fall, and the Southern District will take him down, but it will be after this one term. Remember, Cohen said he could not testify about the nature of his last conversation with Trump in early 2018 because it was under investigation by the federal prosecutors in New York. They will get him.

A lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General’s Office has already led the corrupt Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was presented as the charitable arm of Trump’s business empire, to agree in December 2018 to dissolve, and the litigation continues.

The state of New York is seeking an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from leadership roles in any other New York charity EVER. The state’s Democratic attorney general accused the foundation of being “engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” in violation of federal law.

Charges stemming from this matter state that Trump and his family members used the charity to pay off his legal debts and purchase personal items. The foundation agreed to dissolve and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision, but the Trump’s have not yet faced a court over this illegal activity. Oh, but they will!

Then come the issues surrounding the emoluments. Trump is accused in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution through his businesses’ dealings with foreign governments. These are very serious charges that Trump has not been able to beat. The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 19 in the Trump administration’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte’s 2018 rulings allowing the case to proceed.

The Constitution’s “emoluments clause” bars U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments and the governments of U.S. states without congressional approval. The lawsuit stated that because Trump did not divest himself of his business empire, spending by foreign governments at the Trump International Hotel in Washington amounts to unconstitutional gifts, or “emoluments,” to the president.

Federal prosecutors in New York are also investigating whether the committee that organized Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 accepted illegal donations from foreigners, misused funds or brokered special access to the administration for donors. The Trump organization seems to have forgotten that Federal election law prohibits foreigners from donating to U.S. political campaigns or inaugural committees, and corruption laws ban donors from making contributions in exchange for political favors.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in December 2018 that the president was not involved in his inaugural committee, and that the $107 million raised by the committee, which was chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history, according to Federal Election Commission filings. However, there is copious evidence implicating Trump that is on its way back to haunt him.

Under the Constitution, the president, vice president and “all civil officers of the United States” can be removed from office by Congress through the impeachment process for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives acts as the accuser – voting on whether to bring specific charges such as obstruction of justice – and the Senate then conducts a trial with House members acting as prosecutors and the individual senators serving as jurors. A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to convict and remove.

I don’t think Trump will be impeached, because he has so carefully shielded himself, but he WILL face charges after he is voted out of office in the next election. Just you wait.

Donald J. Trump was NOT exonerated. Got that?

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Within minutes after Barr released the statement that told America that Trump was NOT exonerated / vindicated by Robert Mueller’s report, Trump was barking more lies to the media, claiming that he had been. That’s the kind of liar he is. He’s like a flat-earther.

I am satisfied with Robert Mueller’s report, and I trust the conclusions therein. He is thorough, intelligent and has hawk-like instincts. He knows the law like the back of his hand. I believe that, as in the Casey Anthony case, or in the case of O.J. Simpson, there was insufficient evidence to make a conviction.

Mueller was supposed to decide if Donald Trump could be charged with Obstruction of Justice—or, if not chargeable, whether he should be referred to Congress for impeachment for Obstruction of Justice. But AG Barr usurped Mueller’s job and decided to make that decision himself. Wreaks of more Trumpesque corruption.

Barr was selected by Donald Trump himself upon Trump’s reading of documents written by Barr and sent to Trump allies that said Trump COULD NOT be charged with Obstruction of Justice. So in not forcing Mueller to make the decision his appointment obligated him to make, Barr was able to exercise technicalities and, in effect, TEMPORARILY saved Trump.

Rod Rosenstein, a witness in the Obstruction of Justice investigation against Trump, appears to have helped Barr—who had already put his position on Obstruction in writing prior to his nomination—in usurping Mueller’s obligation to make a decision on that question.

Obstruction of Justice is an impeachable offense, and therefore we now have a witness in a case and a man who made his views known on the case before he had any evidence on it—and who got his job because of his view on the question—saving Trump from impeachment for that.

On “collusion,” investigative reporters and independent journalists just spent years gathering evidence on a very specific allegation of collusion: that for his own enrichment, Trump traded away our foreign policy on Russian sanctions at a time he knew Russia was attacking us.

We are now being told that Mueller never investigated the collusion allegation Trump was facing—on a money-for-sanctions-relief quid pro quo—and instead investigated the allegation as Trump saw it, which was whether he struck an agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers.

For two years, as Trump’s team defined the collusion allegation against him falsely—saying he’d been accused of striking a secret accord with the Internet Research Agency and/or Russian hackers before-the-fact—his critics shrugged and said, “Yeah, we’re not looking at that.”

On this collusion allegation no one was even making against Trump, the Special Counsel didn’t find “no evidence”, he actually only found that he didn’t have the 90%+ proof of that form of collusion required for prosecution. Please re-read that if it didn’t sink in the first time. Bob Mueller did NOT say that he didn’t find evidence against Trump. Trump has ALREADY….within hours of the findings, lied about that…as Trump tends to do about virtually everything.

Any person researching and reporting on collusion—will know that we did not accuse Trump of striking a secret deal with the IRA or Russian hackers before-the-fact, and that “collusion” has never been about that.

So we alleged Obstruction—and people ineligible to make a decision on that issue made the decision. We alleged collusive activity—and it appears the activity we alleged was never investigated. That is how critics of Trump should be seeing what has just happened. That….but they won’t. Trump’s admiration for the uneducated will definitely play to his advantage today. They will get the “vindication” message out there for him, even though he has not been vindicated.

What will happen now is that Trump will say that Mueller found no Obstruction—false, because Mueller made no conclusion on that (though he was supposed to). Trump will then say that Mueller found no collusion, and that will be wrong on two separate and distinct grounds.

The first way in which Trump’s coming statement will be wrong on collusion is that the collusion he was actually accused of wasn’t fully investigated—or perhaps not investigated at all. The second issue is, Mueller failed to exonerate Trump as to any collusion.

American discourse surrounding Mueller’s investigation is at this moment in dire danger—because most in the media do not understand that a proper Obstruction finding was never made, and that a full collusion investigation was never conducted.

Since the Obstruction determination was not made by Mueller—and was improperly made by Barr and Rosenstein—it now falls to Congress to review the underlying evidence and, if House Judiciary finds it appropriate, initiate impeachment proceedings.

Trump’s collusion with Russia continues to be properly investigated—not in the narrow way Trump demanded and apparently Mueller’s team acceded to—in multiple other federal jurisdictions; 2) the inability to indict on the investigated collusion is not an inability to impeach….but I don’t see him being impeached. I DO see him going to prison after the Southern District is finished with him, but he will be out of office by then.

Like everyone else, I also note that if Mueller felt that DJT should be exonerated, he would have stated that implicitly. He would have made a specific declaration of exoneration.

I first understood that there was no evidence Trump colluded via secret agreement with the IRA or Russian hackers, so now, of course, I want to know why Mueller said he wasn’t able to “exonerate” Trump on that allegation. Trump is clearly still in deep, deep dodo.

As to the collusion allegations never investigated—as opposed to the ones Trump self-servingly himself raised only because he knew he wasn’t guilty of those I tell my gentle readers not to be discouraged. There are now 19 federal jurisdictions working on Trump probes that will resolve that issue.

Some of those jurisdictions are Congressional, and many working on cases involving people never interviewed by the SCO face-to-face—Trump, Trump Jr., Prince, Ivanka, and so many others—In other words, this is merely thebeginning of the real collusion investigation.

On Obstruction, once Congress gets all Mueller’s hard evidence, they should either proceed with impeachment or wait for other federal prosecutors to finish their collusion investigations. Think about it. If the public evidence made a prima face case—it did—so did Mueller.

I ask people to distribute this post. Misinformation spreads fast—the nation already misunderstands what happened today, as media wrongly uses terms like “exoneration,” “vindication,” and “collusion.”

Mueller did NOT vindicate nor exonerate Donald J. Trump. He, in fact, took the very unusual step of stating implicitly that the report does NOT exonerate DJT. These types of reports usually do not make statements of that nature.

Trump is NOT exonerated, even though Trump, of course, has already lied about that within minutes of the announcement of the findings. (He did that as I was typing this.)

As I stated previously, Mueller was clever to hand off all those findings/cases (19!!!) to the Southern District when he did. Those cases are serious, pending and will conclude this issue one way or the other. Whatever they conclude, good or bad, I will support it.

The hand of justice works slowly. Based on Mueller’s strong message of no exoneration, I conclude with this thought: Casey Anthony is now remarried and has another child, but she can’t really show her face in public, because everyone KNOWS she did it. OJ? Washed up. Forever.

I understand that some of my friends here feel differently and will interpret the results of this case as evidence of DJT’s innocence and feel that this is a time to rejoice. I’d probably do the same thing if I got all my information from Fox and Breitbart. (chuckle) Innet, Fluffy?

The Joys of Wedded Bliss

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Photo credit: Kat Wilson, Reno, NV.

John and I have been together for 28 years. Last night, we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary…..and it was blissful, starting with breakfast, and until the evening was gone altogether. Our day began with sunshine after a long, cold and gray period of winter. We welcomed with a long walk up to Hawthorne street, where we dined on healthful bowls of great food and smoothies.

Both of us worked for part of the day, but neither of us minded, as we both have exciting projects going on right now, and we’re both enthused and energized by our newfound prospects. John is teaching two classes this term, and I am working on a cookbook, a novel, attending training classes for my international retreat business, still working as a fact checker and researcher, and doing all of the things that I’ve always done. Add to that, going to the gym, yoga, childcare for our Ingrid and doing everything else that we both do, and you’ll see, our plates…and our lives… are full.

We both knocked off early and hung out together and watched a film about the outsider artist, David Beck. GREAT documentary, and fabulous work. Really enjoyed the guy’s imagination and creativity. We talked and laughed our way through that, and had such a pleasant time….which is usually the case. John and I actually LIKE one another. 😉

At one point, I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of red, long-stemmed roses, which is a standard gift from John, and we exchanged presents. I presented him with a very rare and valuable leather-bound, hand-written book that he had been wanting for his collection. Had to jump through a million hoops to find it, but I was so pleased to be able to present him with it, and he was thrilled…..but not as thrilled as I was when he walked in with a new Macbook Pro laptop for me. Retina Pro…all of the bells and whistles. Wow! What a difference that thing makes! Will certainly make my life a lot easier.

So, we went to Clarklewis, and we had one of the best evenings out that we’ve had in ages.

Both of us were in a great mood, so there was lots of laughter and lively conversation. After we shared a beautiful cheese tray layered with roasted nuts, rhubarb jam, house pickles of radish and onion, delicious house-dehydrated fruits and lavash crackers to go with our bottle of Torresella, Prosecco, the meal started with a market green salad with fennel, red beets, smoked feta, walnut granola and apple kombucha vinaigrette. It was fresh, light and delicious!

Next came the soup course, which was a beautiful carrot bisque with sunchokes, miso, spring onion and crème fraîche. I believe that was my favorite part of the entire meal, but it would be hard to say. ALL of it was fabulous.

The main course followed. We both had the risotto with forage mushrooms, rainbow chard, roasted garlic, parmesan stock and black truffles…and we both loved it. It was served piping hot with fresh ground parm on top. Full-flavored, rich, hearty….perfection.

For dessert, John went for the chocolate hazelnut panna cotta with white chocolate shortbread crumble, and I had the handmade butterscotch pudding with a vanilla whipped cream topping, sprinkled with slivered almonds. Yum-o!

My delicious butterscotch pudding
John’s dessert

The restaurant’s atmosphere is a fusion of fine accoutrements blended with a hip, industrial style. It was somewhat noisy inside, but it was also exciting and loads of fun. Can’t wait to take my sisterwives, Kat and Sutton, there when they visit this summer! Planning a lot of fun with those two Reno-ites!

I am so happy to be sharing this particular life adventure with John. I have loved every minute of being married to him. Couldn’t ask for a better husband. Happy 23rd….and, at least, 23 more to go! xoxoxo


Things just fall into place…..

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I have been working on opening my own international retreat business for more than 5 years now. Primarily, I have been working and saving money, conducting research, seeking out retreat locations and interviewing retreat owners. I have been writing a curriculum, conducting marketing research and doing major brainstorming about different offerings.

On my way!

I spoke with a number of friends, and got one friend to agree to do it with me. We talked about it on and off, and every time I spoke to her, she seemed enthusiastic.

Then I got stuck.

I just wasn’t sure what my next step was going to be. It seemed like all the pieces were in place. I just didn’t know what to do next. Then, an opportunity fell right into my lap, in the form of a Facebook ad that I clicked on. Now, my sails are set and I’m going full steam ahead.

I signed up for a training program that cost me thousands of dollars, but in the first day alone, I learned more than my accumulation of research that had transpired over the last years of trying to put this together. I am ensconced in a professional organization and coaching team that assures me that if I follow their program, I can expect to bring in from $20-100K PER RETREAT! This program is so extensive, so organized and so packed with the support that I need, that I’ve already made leaps and bounds. I am amazed!

So I contacted the woman I was going to partner with and asked if she was ready to go. She responded that she was booked up for the next year and that she was going in an alternative direction. There had been no discussion, no information….She simply changed her mind, while remaining open to the idea, but I needed more of a commitment than a person who was only willing to “remain open” to the idea.

Ok.

Would have been nice to have known this before I spent the thousands of dollars for the training….but she is a talented writer and in a great-sounding writing program, so it would be hard to hold any ill will toward her, and I do wish her all the best….but I felt somewhat dismayed about having been left high and dry.

Then, I posted about my endeavors on Facebook….and what happened next proves that when one door closes, another opens.

I was contacted by a woman who had been my art instructor when I attended a small, private university in New England that my husband worked at as Academic Vice President. Jessica has held retreats before in Italy, and has many great resources. She has years of experience and feels enthusiastic about working with me.

We had clicked when I was her student, but we moved away before she and I ever had the opportunity to arrange any type of working arrangement together. She told me this morning that she had always felt that our time together was “incomplete” and both of us feel that this was meant to be…..Therefore, I thank my friend who turned in another direction, because this looks like it’s going to work out for EVERYONE. It works out for the original person I was going to do this with, and it works out beautifully for Jessica and for myself.

The program’s work is very intensive and difficult, but I feel such joy as I embark upon completing it. I SMILE as I go through the homework. These women are true professionals that know this business like the backs of their own hands. They have already reached out to me repeatedly and have given me some amazing feedback.

This morning, I had a long talk with my husband about all of this, and asked for his advice. He reminded me of why I had attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where we had met. It was because of an ad that he had placed in the Houston newspaper when he was Dean of their Evening and Summer Division. The ad had said something about it being MY turn to complete my degree, and because of that ad, my life changed forever. That’s where we met, and as a result, subsequently married.

So now, I’m borrowing John’s idea….or it was given to me, I should say, and I have high hopes and great happiness. My retreats will be transformational by design, glamorous, luxurious retreats in the most gorgeous locations worldwide….in Italy, in Spain, in France. I can hardly wait.

My wanderlust is in control now!.

Better Food-Sweeter Dreams

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Did you know that the foods you eat can effect the quality of your sleep? It’s true. If you find yourself lying awake long into the night, it could have something to do with what you ate before you went to bed.

This article is being posted at the request of one of my followers, Miles Clements

This woman did NOT eat jalapenos before bed!

One of the worst culprits for keeping people awake at night is cheese. Hard cheese, especially, is higher in saturated fat, making it more challenging to digest. It also increases the risk of heartburn. If you do eat cheese before bedtime, try to delay going to bed to help reduce the chances of acid reflux.

Also, if it’s the calcium you’re craving, try a glass of warm milk instead. This will help you fall asleep pronto, thanks to its tryptophan content.

Chocolate will definitely keep you up at night! If you’re reaching for dessert and probably thinking that half a regular-size bar of dark chocolate is healthier than a slice of cheesecake—and it is. But that chocolate poses more of a threat at bedtime.

“Dark chocolate can be a polyphenol-rich treat, but it’s also a surprising source of caffeine,” says Moon. “It’s common to avoid beverages like coffee or caffeinated tea before bed, but it’s just as important to avoid food sources of this stimulant, which can make it hard to fall and stay asleep,” Moon explains.

A square or two of dark chocolate has about a quarter of the caffeine as a cup of coffee, and about half the caffeine as a cup of green or black tea, Moon says. “Keep in mind that some of us are genetically fast caffeine metabolizers, and others are slow metabolizers—meaning caffeine stays in the body longer and has more side effects. Unless you’re sure you’re a fast metabolizer, stay away from the dark chocolately stuff.

In general, it takes 6 to 10 hours to eliminate caffeine, so that means enjoy a dark chocolate treat no later than noon to four pm for a 10 pm bedtime, she advises. A good alternative is tart cherry juice with a few walnuts. Both provide melatonin to help regulate sleep and promote drowsiness.

Uh oh….

While you may argue that beef is an excellent source of protein and iron, its protein content and saturated fat can wreak havoc on the digestive system. If you eat a burger too close to bedtime, it is likely to make your stomach rumble and keep you awake for hours. Better option is to go with a veggie burger. The quality of the protein is arguably higher, and is much, much easier to digest.

Matcha


Matcha is one of my weaknesses. I drink it copiously, and use it in cooking such sweet delights as mochi balls or matcha cheesecake. The stuff is a green tea powder that is full of healthful antioxidents.

Matcha will definitely keep you awake at night, because a cup of it contains roughly the equivalent of a cup of coffee. Plus, if you eat processed matcha snacks, these can be full of sugar that will give you a wide-awake buzz for hours on end. Avoid it before you go to bed.

Cold Cuts…..(yuck!)


Personally, I don’t understand why ANYONE would eat processed meats. They are HORRIBLE for you. The World Health Organization says they cause cancer, too! These meats are extremely high in sodium, will raise your blood pressure, and will also keep you awake at night. Don’t eat them! Make yourself some garlic-avocado toast instead. Yum.

Citrus fruit

This is a hard one for me to avoid, because I love citrus fruit. I cook with it constantly, and always keep a sliced lemon in my refrigerator so I can squeeze it into my water before I drink it. However, citrus fruit should be avoided near bedtime because it is a diuretic, which will make you urinate more frequently. Just as you’re all snug and warm in your bed, you will have to get up to run to the bathroom if you eat citrus fruits prior to bedtime.

I hope you have found this information to be helpful. I am taking requests for future articles, so if you would like me to address a particular topic, please comment here, or drop me a line and I will be happy to see what I can do. Meanwhile, eat right and have sweet dreams…just like Patsy Cline!

Distorted Thinking

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Many of the automatic thoughts that pop into our minds are distorted in some way.  Perhaps they are unrealistically negative or leave out relevant information.  The result of these distorted cognitions is typically a negative shift in mood.  Can you think of a recent event that caused an automatic thought to pop into your mind (e.g., “Stupid” or “I’m a failure”)?

“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

We have these automatic thoughts so frequently that it is easy not to notice them at all.  What we usually do notice is that we are suddenly feeling sad, angry, or anxious.  The challenge here is to learn how to identify common cognitive distortions, begin to challenge them appropriately, and start replacing them with thoughts more based in reality.

Common Distorted Thinking

According to Dr. Judith Beck, influential cognitive therapist (and daughter of the founder of cognitive therapy, Dr. Aaron T. Beck), identifies twelve typical errors in thinking in Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond (1995).

(1) All-or-nothing thinking

This type of thinking is polarizing or dichotomous – it locks us into believing that a situation can “only” be viewed in two categories (rather than in shades of gray).  Example: “If I’m not a total success, I am a failure.”

(2) Catastrophizing

This occurs when we believe that we can “magically” predict the future without considering other, more probable, outcomes.  Example: “I’ll be so upset, I won’t be able to function at all.”

(3) Discounting the positive

When we engage in this type of cognitive distortion, we unreasonably tell ourselves that positive events, attributes, or facts simply do not count.  Example: “I may have done that well, but that doesn’t mean I’m smart; I just got lucky.”

(4) Emotional reasoning

This is a common cognitive distortion wherein we believe in the validity of something because we “feel” it is true so strongly that we ignore evidence to the contrary.  Example: “I know I do a lot of things well, but I still feel like a failure.”

(5) Labeling

This distortion occurs when we put a fixed generalized label on ourselves or others without considering that available evidence may lead to a less disastrous conclusion.  Example: “I’m a loser” or “He’s a bad person.”

(6) Magnification / minimization

We engage in this distortion when we evaluate ourselves, others, or a situation while unreasonably magnifying or minimizing the positive.  Example: “Getting a low grade proves how stupid I am” or “Just because I did well, it doesn’t mean I’m smart.”

(7) Mental filter

This is also sometimes referred to as selective abstraction.  When we think this way, we pay undue attention to one negative detail rather than seeing the big picture.  Example: “Since that one part of the date didn’t go well, it means the whole thing was a failure.”

(8) Mind reading

We employ distorted thinking in this way when we believe that we somehow know what others are thinking – failing to consider other, more likely, possibilities.  Example: “I can tell she’s thinking that she doesn’t like me.”

(9) Overgeneralization

We overgeneralize when we make sweeping negative conclusions that extend far beyond the scope of the present situation.  Example: “Because I felt nervous at that party, I just don’t have what it takes to make friends.”

(10) Personalization

This is when we believe that others are acting negatively because of us, without considering other, more plausible, causes for their behavior.  Example: “She didn’t smile at me in the hallway because I did something wrong.”

(11) “Should” & “must” statements

This type of distortion is also referred to as imperatives.  It is when we have precise fixed ideas about how we or others should behave, overestimating how bad it would be if these expectations are not met.  Example: “It’s awful that I made a mistake.  I should always do my very best.”

(12) Tunnel vision

This common cognitive distortion occurs when we are only able to see the negative aspects of a situation.  Example: “He just can’t do anything right.  He’s so critical and insensitive.”

What do you see these common cognitive distortions as having in common?  Does it strike you that a common thread throughout these distorted automatic thoughts is their failure to take in all known information and to explore realistic outcomes based on evidence?  If you notice that you identify with some or many of these cognitive distortions, remember that we all think in these ways from time to time.  The trick is to begin to realize that there are other, more adaptive ways of thinking about ourselves, others, and events.

When we actually begin to consider the worst case scenario of events in our lives, we realize that the “worst” thing rarely comes true.  However, the fear of the worst case scenario can be paralyzing and debilitating.  Once we begin to identify patterns in our own cognitive distortions and recognize the possibility of more likely scenarios, we start to loosen the grip that these distortions take on our lives.  Try to “catch yourself” in these distorted automatic thoughts the next time you notice a sudden shift in how you are feeling.  What were you thinking just then?  What type of cognitive distortion might have just occurred to you?