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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Monday, 31 December 2012 14:16

Tears of the Heart

The pattern of crying has so many unexplainable twists and turns. The tear response is a phenomena all its own. You know there are those that cry at every happy joyous moment and for those that don't do that, the elbows are out to stick them in the ribs, because we feel they are making a fool of themselves. Then there are those that cry at even a hint of sadness. Those that cry over anything animal; from Black Beauty to Lassie.

tears of joyThere are those deeply moving moments such as when a baby is born that brings you to tears of gratitude followed by a mood of elation and happiness. Tears of anger when you are betrayed. Tears of victory when you win.

The most desperate tears of all are tears of the heart. When you lose somebody you love. A friend, a partner. The experience of grief can leave us with no feelings at all and tears that were once shed freely refuse to flow.

There is no grief like the grief of a mother losing a child. The pain of heart feels almost unbearable. The experience I went through of losing my own daughter was the most crushing mind, body and spirit wrenching experience that took many years to come to terms with.

Be a friend to anybody you know who might have had a recent experience like this. Listen to them, walk with them. Do not turn away because you do not know what to say. Just stand by them and listen. A grieving mother will never forget that kind of loyalty. The tears of the heart can only be received by the person that has a heart for others. Walking away, looking away, turning away are daggers to the mood of complicated grief and add a further layer to this loss that takes you into an emotional Tundra.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Only time allows a person to find a way forward. Have no expectations but to try to survive.

For all the mothers in Connecticut who have lost their children and loved ones your pain is in my heart. Only in time can you find your own truth of how to cope. Just try to keep breathing.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 28 December 2012 21:45

Treat Ourselves

Here is an interesting challenge: treat ourselves how we would treat a loved one.

Perhaps we already do this. Or, perhaps we do this in some ways, and not in others. I suspect that for many of us, a close daily inspection might make us appalled at just how we treat ourselves.

Perhaps we allow ourselves to enjoy a bubble bath and a good book, but then we look in the mirror and speak to our bodies in a way we wouldn’t even speak to our worst enemies. Or perhaps we criticize our own work or expect perfection when we would be far more understanding with others.

In all of us there are times when our beliefs about how we deserve to be treated and how we actually treat ourselves differ enormously. But it is often said that we accept what we think we deserve, so treating ourselves as well as possible is a matter of honoring ourselves. It is in the interest of our wellbeing: we know that we deserve to treat ourselves fairly, so why don’t we do it?

Try taking time in the kitchen to make a delicious meal, no matter how complicated, elegant or time consuming. Do it for yourself. Look in the mirror and compliment yourself. You don’t need to be perfect, no one is. Honor the imperfections that make you unique. Try painting. Compliment your work, and recognize your “mistakes” as opportunities for improvement.

Love yourself. Do this in all of your actions and your thoughts and you will find that little can hold you back. The resulting confidence and joy cannot be taken away, strengthens you in all that you do.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 28 December 2012 21:09

Trying New Things

People have remarked that we seem to get the greatest and most lasting enjoyment out of things that we find exciting rather than things we find pleasurable. Things we find pleasurable, like going to the movies or going out to dinner, make us happy, but they are routine. Breaking the routine by doing something new, something exciting keeps us feeling fresh and prevents us from becoming bored.

But this goes beyond questions of being bored or keeping our minds active and happy. Trying new things opens up new possibilities and allows us to discover ourselves: what do we most enjoy? What types of activities appeal to us and why?

And, further again, trying new things allows us to grow. Following the same routines can be enjoyable, but rarely opens opportunity. Veering off the path, going to new places and trying new things opens new doors: new careers, new life paths, new interests, new friends. Growth requires change.

Choosing change, choosing to try something exciting, opens new avenues in life and happiness for us. Things become fresh and the world opens itself before us.

New actions often give us a new attitude, and vice versa. Go out and try something exciting and unusual for you. This can be going skiing, traveling to an exotic unknown locale, or even trying ice skating. Many of us haven’t done so since we were children. Do we remember how? Try it!

Trying new things not only leads to beneficial mental change, but also lends freshness to our lives and attitudes perfect for the New Year. Challenge yourself to try something new this week and be open to the resulting opportunities!



Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 28 December 2012 14:08

Candles in the Freezer

What is it about candlelight that makes everything seem better? Having a candlelit dinner on the patio with storm lanterns hanging in the trees is one of the most centering experiences I can remember. Small, naked flames dance in ways that send hope, warmth, and care. A very dear friend, who has suffered greatly from anxiety in her life and had more than her fair share of psychiatric ward admissions but who these days lives in healthy emotional recovery once confided in me. She said, “Never stay anywhere without a travel candle, when there is a moving flame you are never alone.” I have done that ever since with a small candle in a tin that I light for a while before I go to sleep. Blowing it out is like a goodnight kiss.

There are very few occasions that I know of that cannot be bettered by having candles in the picture. The truth is any excuse and I am lighting them. They soothe a manic mood and lift a depressed soul.

I used to get disappointed in the dripping wax. Carefully removing it from polished furniture after the tapers had burned down and molten wax had spilled over their holders. All that sooty smoke that would sometimes be a bother and puddles of wax in the little candle bowls. I then read this great tip. Place your candles in the freezer overnight. They will burn twice as long and without dripping. This sounded a bit far-fetched at first blush especially not knowing the science behind it. However desperate people try all kinds of things and as I desperately wanted to continue with all my candle mood moments, I froze all the candles and tried this. To my total amazement it worked. The candles did not drip and they lasted so much longer.

To this day, I do not know all the whys, but I do benefit from the results. So if you have put off lighting candles it's better to resolve the inconveniences instead of getting rid of the candles. Martyrdom thinking is arsenic to a productive and hope-led life. Self-control is good, self-depravation is in need of a little more light. Trying something new takes courage, but the candles in the freezer really paid off. I even have a whole drawer dedicated to candles in my freezer!!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 27 December 2012 14:21

How Close is Your Fiscal Cliff?

Have you ever taken the time to actually make a list of your needs and wants? It is one of those eye-opening experiences that reveal things to you about yourself that you may never have really been aware of. Find an hour to sit by a nice fire, at home, in the garden, or even at Cracker Barrel (they do have the biggest hearths and fires just request the table by the fire!). Put your pen to paper and start the two lists.

As you do this you may find little feelings of passion rising of things long 'put off.' One of the things I always end with on my need list is the want to have financial safety. To me that means enough to pay my obligations and to be able to live. It is very surprising how many women fall into depression and despair when their financial survival is threatened. It can also very easily happen. Things could seem good and suddenly a health problem or accident arises that means you cannot work. An unexpected divorce can create fears so huge that even being able to breath or to cope leaves you with feelings of panic and anxiety. Even the prospects of staying at a women's residential mental health program are very much more appealing than trying to chop your way through a financial thicket alone.

Understanding your needs and wants helps you to start planning for both. The best way is just to make a game of it. The next thing that is helpful is to set goals. Simple goals that are stepping-stones to your needs and then more stepping-stones to your wants.

If you do not have a list of goals your life will not have any direction and you repeat the same old decision patterns so that life manages you instead of you managing life. When I set goals for a week I like to make a bead bracelet. Every time I meet a goal I add another bead to the bracelet. When I have completed the bracelet I hang it on a big hoop with all the bracelets to remind me that I can manage life. My goals include having a financial safety plan to meet basic needs. One of my needs is to say goodbye to depression and hello to joy. My wants are to have less suffering and more peace!

Go try this fireside exercise!!!! Fiscal disaster preparedness is more of a need than a want.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 14:03

On Promoting Yourself

In a job interview, one of the first questions I was asked was whether I was introverted or extroverted. I remember being puzzled and not knowing how to answer the question. Isn’t everyone a little bit of both? Don’t we adjust based on the situation? How does it affect me, anyway?

I thought about this question for a long time. It had been asked to me as if I should know! And then, as I was given the opportunity to try a variety of roles, I discovered that I was very clearly introverted. That crowds and group environments, while satisfying my love of socializing, wore me down while solitude recharged me.

This disappointing realization was magnified by society’s centralization around the extraverted personality, but also by my own insecurities of what that would mean for me. Thus began the process of embracing introversion.

But embracing introversion didn’t keep me from frequent reflection on the question: are you extroverted or introverted? The reason why I couldn’t let this go finally revealed itself.

Most job interviews are opportunities to promote ourselves and all that we have accomplished, rather than a disclosure of who we are as people and what underlies our achievements. Why have we done those things? How do we feel about them?

Questions that cause us to reflect on ourselves and reveal who we are promote us better than any written accomplishment. To really know a person, not just what they have done, is to give them the opportunity to be a real match for a position, to be happy rather than simply functioning. It is to have someone live and breathe what they do, rather than simply perform their assigned tasks. That is when we get the best results.

This goes so far beyond careers. Often in life, we go about doing things out of routine, or because we are comfortable with them, rather than because they match our interests and desires. We get stuck in a rut because we ignore all that we are capable of. It is high time we promote ourselves – to ourselves – and honor who we are, what we enjoy and all that we are capable of.

We can do this by discovering ourselves and what brings our hearts joy, what lights us up, what makes us feel most alive, and then pursuing that.

We function at our best when we listen and honor ourselves. Are you introverted or extroverted? It is in unraveling who we are that we open doors to success and happiness.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 05:22

Pear, Cranberry, and Gingersnap Crumble

Pears are a delicious fruit, but sometimes lack sparkle in baked goods. This recipe adds complexity and bite to pears’ honey-like sweetness with the addition of tart cranberries and the zing of ginger cookies and white pepper.

While this crumble is based on fiber-packed pears and antioxidant-rich cranberries, the true beauty of this dessert is all in the flavor – the bright tartness, subtle sweetness, and gentle heat of the various fruits and spices blend together in a deliciously warm and seasonal flavor perfect for cool winter evenings.

Pear, Cranberry, & Gingersnap Crumble

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen | Makes: One 2-quart Dish of Crumble



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup gingersnap crumbs (4 ounces or about 16 store bought cookies)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 2 pounds (4 or 5) large ripe pears
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt.
  3. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
  4. In a 2-quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together and then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan.
  6. Sprinkle gingersnap crumble over the fruit.
  7. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet in case it bubbles over, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs.









Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 24 December 2012 21:14

Jeremy’s Spice Rack Staples

Spices and herbs are a simple way to transform a dish from bland to amazing. Below are items that I keep in my spice rack along with helpful suggestions on how to use them.

Keep in mind that I have acquired these one at a time over a span of many months. Spices can be expensive, so it is best not to buy them all at once. Just try purchasing one or two quality items each time you make a new dish and soon you will have a full spice rack.

  • Salt - iodized sea salt is best

    • Keep in mind the American Heart Association recommends healthy individuals consume less than 2300mg per day; ¼ teaspoon contains 600mg.

  • Pepper - fresh ground is best

    • Use large amounts for spicy hot dishes, small amounts for garnish

  • Basil

    • Use in pesto sauces, dressings, salads, and soups

    • High in antioxidants

  • Ginger

    • Use in Indian curries, Chinese/Japanese seasoning blends, and some baked goods

    • Also used in teas, ginger ale, and other beverages

    • Possibly effective in relieving painful menstruation, morning sickness, nausea, and inflammatory diseases

  • Garlic Powder

    • Use for Italian sauces, dressings, marinades, sauté with vegetables

    • A great way to enhance the flavor of soups and sauces without having to chop garlic and onions

    • Garlic’s antioxidant and antimicrobial properties have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and boost the immune system

  • Onion Powder

    • Use for sauces and dressings

    • A great sodium free way to enhance the flavor of soups and sauces without having to chop garlic and onions

  • Herbs de Provence

    • Use for meats and soups

    • Great on a whole roasted chicken (a little goes a long way though)

  • Chili Powder

    • Use for red meat and Tex Mex

    • Essential for chili and great for taco night

  • Cumin

    • Use for red meat and Tex Mex

    • Essential for chili and great for taco night

    • High in antioxidants

  • Cinnamon

    • Use for cookies, cakes, fruits, oatmeal, yogurt, and even chili

    • High in antioxidants

    • Some studies suggest cinnamon promotes normalized glucose levels in individuals with diabetes

  • Oregano

    • Use for soups, meats, and chili

    • Good for building flavor in soups and stews

    • Contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties

  • Thyme

    • Use for soups and meats

    • Good for building flavor in soups and stews

  • Rosemary

    • Use for soups and meats

    • Good for building flavor in soups and stews

  • Bay Leaves

    • Great in soups and stocks (remember to remove the leaves before serving)

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice

    • Use in baking to create great flavor without having to have several different types of spices

  • Good Vanilla extract

    • Used in baking

  • Cajun Seasoning and Red Pepper

    • Use for grilling, meats, sauces, pickling, or in any Italian, Mexican, Indian, or even Caribbean dishes

    • Creates heat and adds bite to seasoning blends


Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 24 December 2012 03:29

The Pursuit of Happiness

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~Friedrich Koenig

As the new year prepares to roll around, we tend to turn our focus to new things: new gifts, new gatherings, new resolutions, the new year, even, if you have followed the news, plenty of new babies.

We tend to think of these things as the heralds of a new year of happiness, comfort and joy. New items to decorate our house and new pledges to better ourselves are part of what make the season fresh and inspiring.

Yet they do not, as we expect them to, create happiness. They create the opportunity for happiness by opening new doors or refreshing our perspective, but the opportunity for happiness already lies all around us.

Interesting research has shown that one year after winning the lottery or one year after their accident, lottery winners and paraplegics report the same levels of happiness. That is because no amount of new opportunity creates happiness. The choice to be happy lies within us. It is in our decision to appreciate everything that we have, enjoy it, find fulfillment in it; to be joyous, love life and the world around us; and celebrate ourselves, our family and all that we have.

It is not in our decision to pursue things we don’t have. If we feel that we need something that we don’t have to make us happy, it is the need that we focus on, not the acquisition. That acquisition soon won’t be enough, and we will need more, and need again, until we have driven ourselves into depression, anxiety, or otherwise made ourselves sick.

Happiness is not in new things, but it can be in a new decision or a fresh perspective to be mindful of what we have been blessed with. It lies in a resolution to fully enjoy all that we are and have in life. Then, happiness comes naturally and requires no pursuit.


Published in Brookhaven Blog
Saturday, 22 December 2012 17:48

How to Cook Winter Squash

So many winter dishes are high in saturated fats, calories, and hearty ingredients. Winter squash is a great way to incorporate a fresh, healthy vegetable and take advantage of seasonal produce. People often shy away from these vegetables because they aren’t sure how to prepare them, which is unfortunate because winter squash is not only high in fiber and low in calories, but also packed full of vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamin A.

Here are a few winter squash varieties with preparation information and tips for incorporating them into meals.

Winter squash varieties: (1 lb squash yields approximately 1 cup cooked)


  • Acorn
  • Amber
  • Banana
  • Butternut
  • Cushaw
  • Gold Nugget
  • Kabocha
  • Spaghetti
  • Turban


Cooking ideas from Today’s Dietitian:

  • Puree in food processor with light coconut milk, curry, and freshly minced and sautéed ginger and garlic
  • Add brown sugar, vanilla extract, and toasted walnuts
  • Serve mashed with salt and pepper and a touch of real butter
  • Mix with prepared pesto and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top


Directions for cooking winter squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse squash and poke several holes around the top of the squash.
  3. Place on pan in oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until soft.
  4. Remove squash, allow to cool, then cut in half and scoop out seeds.
  5. The squash is ready to enjoy or refrigerate for later!
Published in Brookhaven Blog
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