50 Days to 50 Years, Day 08: A day in downtown Santa Fe and an evening at Geronimo

24 07 2016

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” — Paul Prudhomme

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Chef Prudhomme is right, I make and eat good food all the time. But I think everyone should have a true silver fork experience every once in awhile—Day 3 of the Santa Fe Foodie Excursion allowed for just that.

We had the morning free, so we walked to the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe and explored some of the free galleries and the neighborhood art. The Grant Corner Galleria had some beautiful and unique pieces that would have been worth it if I was living large. We explored the grounds of the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and the beautiful Cottonwoods that grace the grounds.

It was quite muggy, and the clouds were heavy with rain, so we knew we would get a good downpour sometime during the day. Despite this, we still took our time getting back to the condo, and snapped some pictures of the sculptures that peppered the yards and sidewalks of the neighborhood.

We got back to the condo in time enough to relax before our silver fork dinner at Geronimo, and right before the rain! We sat on the condo porch to listen to the rolling thunder, and watch the rain and lightning. I love the smells, the sounds, and the feeling of the wind and the rain electrifying the atmosphere—such a fabulous treat!

Its been years since I ate at a 5-star restaurant, so I was excited to get dolled up for my silver fork evening.

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The view from the porch as the rain fell and the thunder roared.

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All dressed up and ready to go!

Geronimo Restaurant is housed in an historic building built by Geronimo Lopez in 1756. Called the “Borrego House”, this elegant and noble structure has thick adobe walls, kiva fireplaces and wood beams; a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.  Chef Sllin Cruz specializes in a menu that uses local foods and showcases the indigenous cuisine of New Mexico. So the menu changes seasonally, dependent upon what is available.

Geronimo’s specialty is a Tellicherry Rubbed Elk Tenderloin, so that is what we both ordered; but not without starting out with a Red Belgian Endive Salad, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio appetizer, and a 2013 Malbec that was absolutely incredible in clarity and bouquet. Lynn had himself a beer as well, because why not?

We received palate-cleansing porcelain servers of Raspberry and Lime sorbets, and then we dived into the main course.

The Elk Tenderloin did not disappoint. It was a melt-in-your mouth rare cut for me, and Lynn had his medium well. The beautifully seasoned Mushrooms and Snow Peas were a heavenly addition. Accompanied by the Malbec, the entire meal was akin to a religious experience, and we savored every bite.

Amazingly enough, we saved room for dessert: Lynn had a Vanilla Ice Cream with Marizipan topping and a Cardamon base. I had an Orange Creamsicle Cake, reminiscent of my favorite childhood ice cream bar.

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I considered it a success that I didn’t spill anything down my front and managed to keep my elbows off the table. This #foodieexcursion has been Beyond, and I am sad to see it come to an end. But this silver fork dinner experience was a fitting end.

 

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 30, Evo and Captain Fantastic with Christy Bell

2 07 2016

“Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends,
never lose a chance to make them.”
— Francesco Guicciardini

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I cannot believe I am already 30 days away from the official Big 5-0. What a delightful time it has been to pursue, as Steely Dan so eloquently put it, “Reelin’ in the Years”.

And what is it with Captains? It seems to be a trend in this 50-year challenge, at least when it comes to movies. From “Captain America” with longtime friend Sarah Beach, to “Captain Fantastic” with new friend Christy Bell. While I didn’t enjoy “Captain Fantastic” as much as “Captain America: Civil War”, the company and the food was just as rich.

I met Christy through a mutual friend Cheryl Leutjen. Cheryl ran a networking Meetup for Work at Homers, and also participated in my Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup. She knew Christy was in transition, and recommended Christy check out my group. Christy did, and she was a wonderful addition. When she was able to attend, she brought great insight and her wicked smarts to every discussion. Between Cheryl’s Meetups and mine, Christy and I struck up a friendship, and even though both Meetups are now dissolved, we still stay in touch. A couple of years ago Lynn and I spent Christmas Day with her, catching two movies in the theater, and having Dim Sum and Chinese after. It was among one of the best Christmases we have spent.

Christy is erudite and a great conversationalist, but she is also a keen listener. I also love her smile and her laugh, and the glint of mischief in her eyes. I suspect had we met in our 20s or 30s, when we were both less “tempered”, we would have gotten into a good deal of trouble. Heck, we may have a chance to do that in our 50s, given the right timing and circumstance!

So when I invited her to be a part of the 50 Days to 50 Years challenge, she was delighted to carve out the time. Among Christy’s many talents as a writer, chef, and organizational whiz, she is an actress and a member of SAG-Aftra. So free screenings at the DGA are a part of her membership. She also treated me to pizza, either before or after, at a little WeHo bistro called Evo.

Christy is a vegetarian, so we ordered a Artichoke-Spinach-Parmesan pizza on a Whole Grain Crust to share. It was extremely tasty, and the sauce was sublime! Christy had an Amber Ale, which looked great and refreshing, but not really my cup of tea, or, er, alcohol.

Christy paid me a very high compliment: she said that I was really gifted at the career-reinvention stuff and I should find a way to start it up again at my new church. We talked a bit about that, the workshop I recently conducted at Elizabeth House, and what was going on in our current jobs, career searches, and housing situations. Then we stepped across the street to the DGA to bask in the cinematic wonder of Viggo Mortensen. He really is an incredible actor, and made this film about extremes, consequences, and choices watchable.

After the screening, we repaired to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to discuss what we liked and didn’t like about the film, and I capped off our glorious meal with a Salted Pistachio Ice Blended, something I hadn’t partook of in a long time. It was quite refreshing, but not as refreshing as the kindness, generosity, and support of Ms. Christy Bell.

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 31, Tea and Company for Jana’s Birthday

1 07 2016

“Female friendships that work are relationships
in which women help each other to belong to themselves.”
— Louise Bernikow

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Day 31 started off with high tea at the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre. Jana Benson invited me and some of her other friends to celebrate her birthday. A few of the women are a part of our Women’s Bible Study small group, and others I knew from the Women’s Coffee—so I was right at home, even if high tea is a foreign concept.

I think I have been to three in my entire 50 years: one for another birthday party eons ago, the two other times were for bridal showers. Girly-girl I am not, and tea parties are the quintessential girly-girl thing to do. As a little girl I brewed coffee in a real percolator and played writer. I know, big surprise….

But it was a delightful afternoon, and Jana is always the consummate hostess. The tea selections were Mandarin Spice, Royal Wedding, and Mayfair Afternoon—each table ordered one of each; our table chose the Mayfair Afternoon, which was a delicious blend of strawberry, mint, and lemon. Sooo good. The sandwich selections were Banana Bread with Cream Cheese; Cucumber and Dill; Tomato, Basil, and Butter: Chicken Salad; and Egg Salad.

But the biggest foodie highlight were the freshly baked—I mean piping hot out of the oven—scones. With Devonshire clotted cream and fresh raspberry jam, they were simply divine. I could have eaten about four more, but that would have required additional ordering. I’ll do that next time.

Of course, what is tea without biscuits? I’m not sure how the Brits coined the term biscuits for cookies, but whatevs; the Dulce de Leche mini slices, Lemon Bars, and Shortbread Cookies lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar were way delish. With several spots of tea, I found myself quite full, so it was probably a good idea I didn’t have any more scones, as I would have had to be rolled out the door.  20160701_123349

And I very well would come back, so perhaps I have more girly-girl in me than I thought. Imagine that…

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 44, Education and Reinvention

18 06 2016

CAAN Board 2015

“To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.” ― Bell Hooks

In 2015, I was elected as a member-at-large for my college’s national alumni board. My masters degree is from another “name” university, but my heart and loyalty will always be with Columbia College Chicago, where I received my undergraduate degree.

The bond is strong for a number of reasons; primarily because the tools and experiences I received at Columbia are ones that I use over and over again to increase my personal currency and vocational knowledge across all the industries in which I interact.

From Columbia I gained huge lessons on finding my unique voice, sharpening and honing all my skills, and pursuing my craft with authenticity. As I move forward in years, I understand more and more what a really phenomenal education it was on many levels. As part of my board role, I have had the opportunity to share this with prospective students and with other alumni, and it has been a joy.

Which is why I am looking forward to CAAN Connect, a speed pitching event for the Columbia Los Angeles alumni. Entertainment industry executives volunteer their time to hear Columbia alumni present their projects, and many have gotten help, work, and representation through this forum.

I have attended two CAAN Connects, one as an alumni pitching a project, and the other as an alumni volunteer helping others. This time will be a hybrid of both: representing the alumni board and helping the attending alumni, and also getting the opportunity to pitch As the Girl Turns to two of the executives who specialize in representing influencers and brands. Over the last eight years I have skirted the edges of both arenas, and my desire is to cement myself and take my influence and brand to the next level.

So today has been preparing my biography, projects, and pitch materials to present in a few days, and it has been satisfying seeing the big picture representation of my body of work. I hope I can translate that satisfaction effectively into my speed pitch.

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 45, Couples Therapy

17 06 2016

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress;
working together is success.” — Henry Ford

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The best kind, actually.

Robert and Gina are among the first people we met at Montrose Church in a Faith and Film Class led by producer Ralph Winter, and we loved them immediately. Robert has an acerbic wit honed by his years as a police detective, and Gina is the sweetest, most welcoming person you could ever meet; she exudes genuine warmth and is an extremely smart lady. We were blessed and delighted that the feeling was mutual, and it was sad when the 8-week class ended, because we wouldn’t have opportunity to see them every week. While going to a church with two campuses and multiple services has benefits, that is one of drawbacks; so it requires intentionality to stay connected.

When Lynn and I became members of the church, we let Robert and Gina know, and asked if they would be there when we were welcomed into the church family. They wholeheartedly agreed, and also invited us on a dinner date with them in the future—their treat!

We had a grand time tonight at Los Gringos Locos in La Canada Flintridge, imbibing margaritas, eating chips and salsa, and inhaling burritos, tacos, guacamole, and enchiladas.

But more than that, we had the opportunity to draw upon the wisdom of a couple who has done marriage successfully for over 27 years. Robert and Gina shared some insights with us that were thought-provoking and profound. They also shared the joy of friendship, mutual respect, and laughter.

Lynn and I are moving toward one decade together, and desire to continue to thrive. To do that, it is essential that we have the support and weight of a community that encourages that success, and embodies it. We are grateful Robert and Gina are a part of that community, and we look forward to more time with them in “couples therapy”.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 46, Yoga and Life

16 06 2016

“A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body…” — Proverbs 14:30(a), Amplified Bible.

20150315_115011I have so far taught five Yoga classes this week, and have one more tonight. While I often have an overall theme for all the classes, each class is always different, and varying aspects of the theme are emphasized, depending on the students and what I am sensing at the moment.

Before a couple of my classes I talked about Yoga as a tool to connect with your body. It’s not about how bendy you are or whether you can do 5 millions handstands; it’s about movement on the mat that allows you to delve deeper into yourself and your practice. If that practice consists of simply lying in Savasana and breathing, then you have accomplished Yoga. That movement on the mat translates to movement off the mat, and consistency in your practice are part of the building blocks to success.

There are a million sites that talk about Yoga’s benefits, so I will not reiterate them all here. While the physical benefits are terrific, the deeper benefits of a calm and undisturbed mind are what bring me to the mat, and keep me returning.

When I started a fuller and more committed practice at the age of 44, it was for that calm, not to lose weight or to get a Yoga booty—though as you can see, I have a beautiful one!

While pursuing my first Teacher Training in 2011,  I wrote these words in an article, Yogis of Faith:

I chose to deepen my Yoga practice after a particularly stressful three years that began with a sibling’s death, followed by a job loss, loss of a home, and then my husband’s health. Despite our entire church congregation and many others praying and supporting us, this Season (which is still ongoing) has had little reason, little relief, and few answers. Yet, through the practice of Yoga I have been able to “Be still, and know that he is God.” I have walked with Jesus for 29 years, and pretty well know all the Christian disciplines and how to apply them. But I would not have not been able to continually do this save for the practice of Yoga. It has been God’s gift to me in helping me discover a window of sanity during an insane time.”

I wish I could say the times have gotten less insane, but they haven’t. With all praise to God, my Lynn is well and we have a roof over our heads; but our financial fortunes though improved, have yet to be restored, and this uncertain world continues to harbor fears and setbacks around every corner. So Yoga is a powerful tool in my spiritual arsenal to calm my mind and soul, helping me to hear from God, and giving life and strength to my body, no matter what the day or life may bring.

I look forward to pursuing my own time on the mat before my next class, and delving deeper into my body, into my soul, and into God’s Holy Spirit. It has been a good and perfect gift (James 1:17) in these 50 years on earth.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 47, Selfies and Snuggles

15 06 2016

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

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It’s a really good thing neither Lynn nor I are vain people. At 55 and 49, gray hair and double chins, we are quite content to take a selfie with faded clothing and bad lighting.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are my Yoga teaching days. Between my regular five classes, classes that I sub, and writing coverage that I sometimes do in the evening, by the time I get home a hot shower and my pajamas are high on the list of priorities; then, snuggle time!

My husband is a love bug and has no problem with public displays of affection, so we got affectionate for the camera. Then our other love bug, Puppet, decided he needed to be in the midst of this kissy-face-fest, so he jumped on our laps and joined the fun!

We have been together for 11 years, and will be married for nine of those years just two days after I turn the birthday page. The bulk of those years have been a rocky road due to sickness, financial distress, and life circumstances. But I can say with confidence that we love each other more today than we did yesterday, but definitely not as much as tomorrow.

On the road to 50, I am blessed to have found love, and someone who wants to build a home with me and help me celebrate the big and little things in life.