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Archive for June, 2010

  • Day 119: I LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE!

    Date: 2010.06.26 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    New Eminem ft. Rihanna:  (Click where it says to click on video!)

  • Day 117: Is Stevia the Answer to Sugar Obsession?

    Date: 2010.06.24 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    Check out the story at Huffington Post by clicking here (where the links work) or reading the reprinted story below:


    By Pooja R. Mottl

    I’m always looking to Mother Nature for some alternatives to mainstream food ingredients to help consumers and clients stay healthier and feel their best. It’s thought that one such ingredient may be stevia, or more correctly, stevia-derived sweeteners. Stevia sweeteners are gaining popularity because of two main factors: they contain zero calories and they’re supposedly more “natural” compared to artificial sweeteners. As obesity continues to top news stories and consumers become more conscious about the source of our food, these two ideas seem to be a marketing dream scenario — a miracle ingredient!

    But just how “natural” is it really?

    Stevia is a shrub-like plant native to South and Central America, known for its sweet leaves. Its extracts can be nearly 300 times the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar), and its negligible effect on blood glucose. Although its leaves have been eaten fresh and used in teas for centuries in Paraguay and Brazil, it’s not legal to use whole stevia as a food additive in the United States.

    But a tiny, naturally-occurring steviol glycoside constituent (about two to four percent of a whole leaf) of the plant, called rebaudioside A (also known as reb A, rebiana, stevia extract), was passed into Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) status by the FDA in 2008. It’s now allowed as an ingredient in diet sodas, energy drinks, cold cereals, fruit juices, oatmeal, yogurts, candies, syrups, chewing gum and countless other packaged and baked goods. In 2009, the market intelligence firm Mintel proclaimed stevia was poised to become the “holy grail” of sweeteners, estimating the stevia market could exceed two billion dollars by the end of 2011. It’s quite possible that this highly purified extract could soon be ingested by hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis.

    How it’s made

    So we already know that this sweet substitute is not a whole food, since it’s an isolated portion of the natural whole leaf. But what’s really behind the process of making rebaudioside A into a legal food additive?

    This is where things get complex. In order for a stevia plant to be converted into the final, GRAS approved product, milling, extracting, combining, chemical refining, filtrating, desorption, sterilization, recrystallization and purifying may have to occur depending on the procedure(s) used.

    According to public FDA filings on behalf of Cargill: “Rebiana is obtained by hot water-extraction of leaves from the S. rebaudiana plant. The process can be divided into two phases, with the first phase involving the extraction of the leaves and preliminary purification to yield the steviol glycoside primary extract, followed by a second phase which involves re-crystallization of the steviol glycoside primary extract from a water/alcohol mixture to obtain a final product with a high rebaudioside A content.”

    Obviously this chain of events is quite lengthy, each step taking rebaudioside A further from its natural origins. And if we compare rebaudioside A to another, newly popular, “natural” sweetener, namely agave syrup, it gets even more apparent that although we may start with something from nature, by the time we reach the end of the processing chain, the finished product is a lot different. Instead of the ingredient coming from the whole agave plant/juice or the whole stevia leaf, it’s just a highly modified derivative — probably not so “natural.” And in the case of agave nectar processing, there’s already a bit of backlash brewing over what could be an excessively high ratio of fructose to glucose content in the final syrup.

    The take-aways

    We may not know enough about rebaudioside A or its healthy intake levels to make any conclusions about whether or not it’s the new zero calorie sweetener “miracle.” Only time and more research will tell — as is the case for most food ingredients, additives and products in our history of eating. I applaud food scientists’ desire to find and launch more natural alternatives. While they’re listening to the changing desires of a more educated and health-conscious customer base, we also need to continue our education and be mindful in our food choices.

    Processing, however, usually leads to “un-whole” foods. The concept of health-promoting “synergies” within whole foods discussed by Annemarie Colbin and Michael Pollan is crucial. There may be benefits that come from the combination of compounds in a carrot, or any other natural, whole food that science has yet to discover. Rather than relying on the latest processed food additive or supplement, it probably makes more sense to seek out, zone in on, and embrace whole foods in order to maximize great taste and optimal health. These are concepts that Western medical sciences, nutrition science, modern chemistry, etc. may not understand better than Mother Nature herself.

    There’s no silver bullet; no quick fixes. We can’t depend on the next zero calorie sensation to bail us out of our obsession with sweetness nor our war with obesity. The bottom line is that we’re a nation addicted to quick, super sweet, highly-processed foods and have created palates that are unhealthily skewed toward sugar. We don’t need zero calorie sweetness, we just need less sweetness!

    So instead of settling for highly processed nectar, syrups or extracts, I want to leave you with a few simple alternatives to solving a sweet tooth obsession.

    1. Gradually start to modify your palate and reduce your sugar cravings by introducing more whole foods and less processed foods that tend to contain refined sugars — sugars we eventually fall addicted to. Additionally, try to soothe cravings with fresh and dried fruits and high quality dark chocolate.
    2. If you want to add sweetness to your yogurt, drinks (ex. tea or lemonade), smoothie, or cereal, try using less refined, more raw sugars such as molasses, sucanat (unrefined pure dried cane sugar juice), maple syrup (I use it to sweeten tea), barley syrup, rice syrup or date sugar.
    3. If your sweet tooth gets the best of you, go for the real thing, just not too much of it. Choose sodas with real sugar or natural sodas sweetened with real cane juice or honey. There are also plenty of carbonated options at health food stores and supermarkets.
    4. 4. Remember to always: Keep it mindful, keep it whole, keep it real.

  • Day 116: Thank You Berry Much, Angelina Fox

    Date: 2010.06.23 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Sometimes I don’t believe myself that I’m going without candy.  Even harder to believe is the fact that it’s not always that difficult not to have it.   But maybe I’ve just hypnotized myself without knowing it and after these 365 days are up, my sugar cravings will power back ten-fold and I’ll be gobbling candy, cakes, ice cream and pie like there’s no tomorrow.

    Wait, did I just say pie? Like one of my favorites, blueberry pie?

    Anyway, yesterday I was working as the host of a webinar designed to be broadcast by a financial services company.  My colleagues-slash-friends Katherine and Shelley were with me; Shelley was up in London producing it and Katherine and I were in my home studio.

    Things were going fairly smoothly until we hit little bump.  I like to choose a nom de plume, as it were, when I act as host for business webinars.  So this time, I invented a name I felt had a certain frisson of excitement to it:  Angelina Fox.  Perfect.  Angelina Fox will be your host today.

    Katherine has a very practical streak and as were rehearsing the script, she wondered aloud if there were any real Angelina Foxes.    So we googled Angelina Fox.  Sure enough, there were a few.  The first Angelina Fox that came up on google was an… actress.  With one credit:  Buttman’s Anal Show 5 .

    With much reluctance, I changed Angelina’s last name.

    We began recording and did it in one, almost perfect 25-minute take that ended with me telling the audience that they could also download the webinar later on any smartphone.  I was pleased when we finished but noticed Katherine was looking at me a little strangely and I heard Shelley laughing in London.

    “That was great,” Shelley said. “Except when you were talking about the apps available on the iPhone and the Blackberry, you said Blueberry.”

    Betrayed by my unconscious.

    Who cares. Yum.  I want some blueberry pie RIGHT NOW.

  • Day 113: My Own Sugar Daddy

    Date: 2010.06.20 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 14

    If anyone is to blame for my sweet tooth, it’s my father. So, how sweet was he?

    “Let’s face it, I’m a revolving, from every angle, son of a bitch,” begins one of my favorite letters from him. I wanted to quote that line at his funeral until I caught sight of my mother and aunt in one of the pews and lost my nerve.  My father would have loved it.

    I think that after your parents die, the mystery of who they really were deepens. Like the picture above of my father, Ted, with his dog, Mugsie, where the image has faded and you can’t quite make him out anymore.

    I also believe that in some cases you get the father you deserve. I got a self-described sonofabitch whose moments of sweetness left such an imprint that one of my childhood friends named her son after him.  A sometime-scoundrel who’s still a near-legend in the tiny universe of people who remember him and still talk about him years after his death.

    He was a loner to the end – but he loved to play his women against each other and never let the truth, especially about me, get in the way of a good story.  My cousin, for example, who always adored him, just found out recently that I was never, in fact, a Rhodes scholar.

    It took me years to realize that anyone can have a stable, reliable dullard for a father.  But a colorful bad boy who does it his way and doesn’t care what anyone thinks?  Better learn to love them because the world is always going to be on their side.

    My father once got irritated with my childhood friend Doug when Doug was about 17 so my dad just tossed him across the room like a rag doll.  Hey, everyone has a bad day. Doug strenuously defends my father to this day; in fact Doug once told me I was an “ungrateful” daughter.  See my point?

    Sugar’s my thing but it was only my father’s backup addiction.  He was an alcoholic, but he gave up drinking when I was about 4 and white-knuckled it without any liquor until I was 17 and went off to college in LA.  My parents split up when I was 2 and my mother wouldn’t let him pick me up in his car because of his drinking.  Hence the overnight sobriety.

    So for those 13 years without “Uncle Jack,” which is what he called Jack Daniels whiskey, he made do with candy.   He and I spent my childhood together in an odd coupling reminiscent of the con man and tough orphan (who may or may not be his daughter) who bickered their way through the 1973 film, Paper Moon. ( The movie resonated with me so much that I’ve interviewed the star, Tatum O’Neal,  at left with her real-life father, Ryan O’Neal, three times since 1990 and we’re now friends.)

    My dad worked at General Electric and lived near us so I saw him most weekends and during his summer vacations. Our sweetest moments, literally, were spent on Cape Cod where my father had an old summer house in Barnstable Village and a powerboat.

    Both of us were happiest in our boat on Cape Cod Bay en route to Sandy Neck or Provincetown with a Red Sox game blaring on the transistor and several boxes of fudge between us.  We used to watch the Saturday night block of sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show while eating from huge bags of orange circus peanuts and more fudge.  Neither of us ever gained an ounce.

    Many summer nights we’d go to the penny candy store on Main Street in Hyannis and then catch a movie at the drive-in, sitting in my dad’s blue VW Bug with our provisions.  During the day, when we weren’t fishing off the boat or water-skiing, my father took me and my friends to Hathaway’s Pond where he organized endless swimming competitions and races for us.

    When it came time to leave the Cape every Sunday night and drive back to the North Shore, I stocked up on candy and Tiger Beat magazine. I sat in the back of the car with my feet up on the passenger seat so my father could reach over and rub them while he drove.

    Sounds great, and I loved all of it.  But my father could be the bane of my existence. I was embarrassed that he was so much older than other fathers (he was 48 when he had me) and found him hopelessly eccentric.

    When I was little, going out to eat was often an ordeal – at least for me.

    “She recently escaped from a Belgian circus troupe,” my father would tell the gullible waitresses when we went out for breakfast. “She’s a fine acrobat but she doesn’t speak much English.”

    Other times, we would sit down at  the  (now long-gone) soda fountain at the Barnstable General Store and order milkshakes.

    “And put plenty of gravy on mine, amigo!” my 100% Irish-American father would bellow as I wished I could disappear into the floor.

    He also had a slightly morbid view of death.  He was always talking about writing his will and how one day we would “plant” him and he would go off to the “Great Beyond.”   “I’m so thin, the pallbearers will have it easy,” he told me.

    My father carried a length of pipe on the floor of the backseat of his car in case, he said, anybody ever threatened him. He taught me how to fight when I was 7, recommending one move which involved brandishing your index finger and little finger and poking them in the offending person’s eyes.

    He was always feuding with someone.  People showed up to spend a week with us in the summer and something would often go wrong within minutes. The next thing I knew, their car was pulling out of the driveway and  it was just me and my father again.

    But he usually copped to his own insanity.  ”I threw the bad Ted in the harbor,” he once told my older half-sister after some dust-up.

    I don’t know why my father was an alcoholic except that his own father, who I never met, did a lot to try to break his spirit.  There was very bad blood there.

    I am eternally grateful I didn’t really know him as a drunk – and that I only got the candy gene, not the alkie gene. He never laid a hand on me and even though he could be difficult and mean at times,  he always acted as if he was surprised to have produced me, that I was too good for him.

    I saw him less and less after college as he began drinking more and more Miller Lites and gradually took up with Uncle Jack again.  My father had taught me to come and go on my own terms without realizing he was preparing me to be able to let go of him.

    The day I flew back to LA after my father’s funeral in Boston, I developed an intense, almost crippling fear of flying that lasted four years. When I was on a flight, it was as if there was no pilot and I had to fly the plane.  Then one day the fear ended as abruptly as it began.

    My father lived on for a long time though, in the astonishing number of men I found who looked just like him, to the point where one friend said it was as if they all came from one planet, arriving here in spaceships one after another.

    I’ll always have his voluminous correspondence, too, even the old Western Union telegrams. Often, after a rough patch between us, my father would pull out the violins and compose a letter to coax me back down to the Cape. At this he was a pro:

    “We’ll point the compass due northeast to P-town and head toward Long Point Light.  You watch the maps, I’ll take the wheel.  I’ll let you wear that old sweatshirt you like and you let me listen to the Red Sox.  It’ll just be you, me and a box of fudge.”

    Happy Father’s Day, amigo, wherever you are!

  • Day 107: Why is Sugar in Almost Everything?

    Date: 2010.06.15 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    Sometime this month or next I am going to do One Week Without Any Sugar.  Meaning I’m not going to eat any of the otherwise harmless-looking foods like tomato soup, muesli, cereal, ketchup, peanut butter, yogurt, soda etc. that  all contain added sugar.

    I’m going to go off fruits too, even though they are wonderful for you and their sugar is natural.  As readers of this blog know, I have given up candy and all sweets and desserts but not all added sugar.  But it’s time to try. I’ll let you know when I decide to do my total No Sugar Week and maybe you will do it with me.  It’ll just be one week. It’ll be a grand experiment!  Watch this space.

    Sugar is in so much of what we eat now that it’s no wonder Americans consume 180 pounds of sugar a year.  Putting all that sugar in your body is like bellying up to the broken oil well 5000 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico and opening your mouth as the oil gushes out.

    Why is sugar in so much food while an epidemic of diabetes rages in the U.S.?

    Why are so many American kids put on Ritalin and Adderall to cure their alleged ADD while countries like France don’t even allow such drugs for anyone?

    How did Alvin Greene win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator in South Carolina?

    Why did nobody have proof that President Bush was lying about WMDs until after we went to war in Iraq?

    How come nobody can really say why we continued to stay at war with Iraq?

    Why are more and more people hooked on the scary sleeping pill Ambien?

    How did BP get away with drilling so deep and cutting so many corners?

    How come nobody can stop the oil spill?

    Is it because we’ve never had more “journalists” in the U.S. but at the same time we’ve never had less real information?

    Love this video from Robert Kennedy Jr.

    Sweet Tips for Consumers

    • Check nutrition and ingredient labels for sugar and its equivalents, including sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, honey and molasses.
    • USDA recommends limiting added sugars — from packaged foods and the sugar bowl — to 24 grams a day (6 teaspoons) if you eat 1,600 calories; 40 grams (10 teaspoons) for a 2,000-calorie diet; 56 grams (14 teaspoons) for a 2,400-calorie diet; and 72 grams (18 teaspoons) for a 2,800-calorie-diet. Don’t worry about the natural sugars from fruit and milk.
    • Cut back on soft drinks (40 grams of sugar per 12 ounces) — “liquid candy” — by far the biggest source of sugar in the average American’s diet. Drink water, seltzer, low-fat milk, or orange juice instead.
    • Fruit “drinks,” “beverages,” “ades,” and “cocktails” are essentially non-carbonated soda pop. Sunny Delight, Fruitopia, and others are only 5%-10% juice.
    • Limit candy, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, granola bars, pastries, and other sweet baked goods. Eat fruit instead.
    • Fat-free cakes, cookies, and ice cream may have as much added sugar as their fatty counterparts and they’re often high in calories. “Fat-free” on the package doesn’t mean fat-free on your waist or thighs.
    • Look for breakfast cereals that have no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
    • Watch out for sweets — ice cream, shakes, and pastries — served in restaurants. Their huge servings can provide a day’s worth of added sugar. For example, a large McDonald’s Vanilla Shake and a Cinnabon each have 12 teaspoons (about 48 grams) of added sugar.
  • Day 105: Will LA Laker Lamar Odom’s Candy Addiction Hurt Him Tonight in Boston?

    Date: 2010.06.13 | Category: Celebrities | Response: 1

    Tonight, the “Candy Man” of the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar Odom, and his team face the Boston Celtics in the most crucial game of the 2010 NBA finals. The series is tied 2-2.  Game 5 starts at 8:00 p.m. EDT in Boston.  (Go Celtics!)

    It’s the kind of game where you really need to be… on top of your game. But the Laker forward hasn’t been playing up to standard in the series and he’s been getting hammered in the press and by his coaches.

    And as we’ve mentioned before in A Year Without Candy, Lamar Odom is a world-champion sugar addict.  He’s a brilliant player, but not always consistent. His unbelievable consumption of the most sugary candy available (see last year’s hilarious video about Lamar’s candy obsession here) is sometimes blamed when his skills go south. Lamar’s father Joe was a heroin addict.

    One year ago, Odom’s crazy-ass candy addiction was all over the sports news, and even inspired this essay, titled The Lakers’ Lamar Odom, Sweet Tooth and Erratic Play, by a brain doctor named Dr. Daniel Amen:

    I have been a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a child. I am really excited about my team being in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

    What I’m not as excited about is a video I recently watched on the ESPN website about Lakers star Lamar Odom and his massive addiction… to candy. In it, you can see the 6-foot 10-inch forward gobbling up massive quantities of sugary treats.

    Odom has been a giant source of frustration for Lakers fans. He is unbelievably talented, but often acts like a space cadet during games. Once, when he was taking the ball out on the sidelines, he walked onto the court before he threw the ball in, causing a turnover.   During the Lakers last home game against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe Bryant threw him a pass, but the ball hit him on the shoulder because he had spaced out and was not paying attention.

    On sports talk shows, Odom is constantly criticized because no one knows if he will play well or not. He can play great, and be worth his 14 million-dollar salary, or he can act like he is “missing in action.”

    Odom freely confesses that he just can’t help himself when it comes to the sweet stuff and always keeps a stash on hand of Gummi Bears, Honey Buns, Lifesavers, Hershey’s white chocolate, Snickers bars, cookies, and more. He eats the sugary snacks morning noon and night, and even says he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, chows down on some treats, then falls back asleep.

    This is bad news for the Lakers. I’ve been telling my patients for years that sugar acts like a drug in the brain. It causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling tired, irritable, foggy, and stupid. Eating too much sugar impairs cognitive function, which may explain why Odom doesn’t always make the smartest decisions on the court.

    Excessive sugar consumption also promotes inflammation, which can make your joints ache, and that’s definitely a bad thing for a professional athlete. It is also linked to headaches, mood swings, and weight gain. Weight gain isn’t a problem now for Odom, but it is for the average person who isn’t playing full-court basketball for hours each day.

    As a fan and a physician, it concerns me that our professional sports organizations and players are not more concerned about brain health, which includes nutrition. My advice to Odom and to all sugar addicts is to get your sugar consumption under control. You’ll feel so much better and your brain will function better, too. And, maybe the Lakers can get their 15th championship and Odom can get his first.

    Read this article in the Los Angeles Times from June 2009 in response to Dr. Amen’s essay, titled: If Anything, Lamar Odom Isn’t Eating Enough Candy!

    An unrepentant Lamar himself responded to Candygate in the below video in which he pointed out that he had eaten candy for breakfast during some of his best recent games:

    Even the Lakers coach Phil Jackson was forced to weigh in on the scandal (candal?) and sounded very much like an enabler when he downplayed Lamar’s sugar addiction:


    GO CELTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Day 105: Can YOU change?

    Date: 2010.06.12 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    I’ve changed, at least for now.  I never thought I could go 105 days without my favorite things: sweets.  Sometimes I think well, of course, sugar’s in everything.  But chocolate isn’t in everything.  I may have sucked down sugar that was added to cereal or peanut butter or a soup mix, but not a drop of chocolate has passed my lips for 105 days…

    I can change…

    LCD Soundsystem’s new “I Can Change” – video pulled from a recent Brooklyn concert. Their new album is This Is Happening.

  • Day 104: TIPS on how to Beat Sugar Cravings!

    Date: 2010.06.12 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    Where have I been? Well, I haven’t been off eating candy, that’s for sure!

    It’s been a busy week on the No Candy Planet, including one special day packed with Dickensian drudgery.  I speak, of course, about filing French income taxes! (See page at left.)  I’d rather eat crusts of black bread and thin gruel for a month.

    When I do things like file my French income taxes my entire math life flashes before my eyes.  I think of my math SAT score – still a classified state and federal secret after all these years.

    There comes a point when I am filing my French income taxes (online and two hours before the midnight deadline) when I might as well be back in high school taking my math SAT.

    I’m an optimist and often start such tasks with my rose-colored glasses firmly in place.  But there came a point during the math SAT where I had to admit defeat. I began penciling in answers based on the colored-in patterns already on the page.

    As the clock ticked on my French taxes, I felt that familiar sense of defeat. I cast about for special fairy dust to sprinkle on my answers as I pressed the final button and sent them in to the FISC as the IRS is called over here.

    Will I get a letter back from the FISC addressed to my parents saying that based on my efforts, I’m not living up to my potential?  Will I have to go to special FISC summer school?

    The good news is that while I did my French taxes without the math skills that’ve eluded me my entire life – I also did them without a big fat box of Junior Mints or several Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Of course you can’t buy either of those fabulous candies in France so the point is beyond moot.

    Even better news, though I am surrounded by Brits here in the south of France, as well as actual French people, I have not succumbed to speaking Brit.  Which is why I don’t refer to it as “maths.”

    Day 104 and I am doing OK without sugary stuff.  Some days it’s surprisingly easy.  I don’t eat much junk in general although yesterday I was seized with the inexplicable desire for something really grotesque:  Pringle’s sour cream and onion potato chips. Is there even any food in that crap or are the same chemicals used to fashion the scary 1970s cylinder container the same ones used to manufacture the chips?

    Who knows.  But I did eat them.  With some tomato soup brought in the British foods section of a local grocery store.  Jolly good, I say!

    Here is a good video about how to beat sugar cravings.  Normally I despise anything offering “tips” on how to do anything.  I was once a correspondent on an afternoon TV show in the U.S. geared at women and every day we had about 400 segments involving “tips” on this or that.  Every woman’s magazine in the U.S. is stuffed with articles giving readers “tips.”

    Meanwhile, armed with all these supposed  tips, people are sucking down Ambien, Prozac, Lexapro and Celexa, or tearing their hair out, or jumping off buildings, or putting guns to their heads.

    I’m waiting for tips to get to their own tipping point.  However, even though this video contains the dreaded tips, I liked it anyway.

  • Day 99: The Sweetness of the Swing Set

    Date: 2010.06.06 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    I almost titled this post GRATITUDE except that word’s been so Oprah-ized that I decided against it.   But if you can get past the earnest New-Age jargon, you’ll find that being grateful packs quite a pragmatic punch. It’s like a trick in life that works.

    Even though I’m almost at 100 days of no sweets, I haven’t spent much time being grateful for eliminating sugar from my life.  I wrote yesterday that I’m going back to basics which today means taking some pride in that.

    I can easily go the other way and look at what’s lacking in my life or what I missed.  My cousin Kathleen reminded me of this in a small way when she emailed me yesterday that she reads my blog once a week, really fast, to avoid the “tantalizing” pictures of candy.  ”You see I NEVER had such a sensual relationship with candy,” she wrote. ” Your blog just makes me feel as if I missed out!”

    Right now I’m reading two books at the same time, Girls Like Us, my friend Sheila Weller’s amazing story of the lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, and  The Place at the End of the World, a memoir by Janine Di Giovanni, one of the pre-eminent war correspondents of our time, with whom I worked years ago at the AP in Boston.

    Frankly, it’s a little hard to read about the incredible careers and storied love affairs of Carole, Carly and Joni – set against backdrops like the 1960s-era hitmaking Brill Building in New York, the Summer of Love in Laurel Canyon and Martha’s Vineyard with James Taylor.

    I think: Why wasn’t I born a wildly talented, iconic singer-songwriter who came of age in the 1960s? For one thing, I have hair a lot like Carole King’s – think of the time I’d have saved over the years had I skipped the blow-drying.

    When reading Janine’s book about her ultra-courageous adventures reporting everywhere from Baghdad and Afghanistan to East Timor, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Bosnia, I think, oh no, I forgot to be a war correspondent!

    But I also know envy is a trap – and I’m never impressed with people who are envious of me.  Invariably it seems like the most jealous people are the least successful. It’s like a bad version of The Circle Game.

    I met my friend, Broadway actress Karyn Quackenbush when I was writing an article about Broadway understudies for The New York Times. Karyn’s now performing in Nora Ephron’s off-Broadway play, Love, Loss and What I Wore, and is opening in a musical called The Bikinis this August.

    Karyn’s had career high and lows but she hews to a cool philosophy to keep her from envy and bitterness when she sees another actress (probably less talented!) getting a part she wanted.  ”It’s her path,” Karyn always says. “There’s no point in being jealous. You just realize you have your path and everyone else has their path. Be glad for your path.”

    I vividly remember the day in the early 90s in New York when I deliberately stopped focusing on where I wasn’t and what I didn’t have and instead focused on what I had.   The very next day, no exaggeration,  my entire career literally took off.

    Which gets me to the swing set.

    My LA-based cousin Michaele is at this very moment vacationing at my father’s old property on Cape Cod where I spent every summer.  She took a picture of my swing set, which was put up even before the Summer of Love and still stands after all these years, and sent it to me on her iPhone yesterday.

    Seeing my old swing set unleashed a flood of childhood memories as if I were Proust dipping madeleines in his tea in Remembrance of Things Past.

    That swing set  helped launch me on my path and it’s the kind of memory that makes me realize I didn’t miss out on much.

    “It is still here and waiting for you,” Michaele wrote. “Wish you were here.”

    Me too.

  • Day 98: Back to Basics.

    Date: 2010.06.05 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    I got up this morning and clicked on my friend Julian Michael’s June newsletter.  (That’s him on the left on ABC News.) You can find his newsletter by going to his site.

    Julian is a fantastic numerologist and writer and seer. We have tons of fun in New York but he also throws great parties in Los Angeles at fabulous estates above Hollywood and at the beach and always has a Kennedy cousin on line one.

    I love his June newsletter because it includes a meditation for tomorrow, June 6th. The meditation involves visualizing a golden door with your third eye and listening to the messages you hear once you have permission to open it.  Oh, yes.

    The messages I got were: go back to basics. I’ve been working a lot and traveling a lot for work. I haven’t been doing all the biking, hiking and kayaking that I usually do all the time all year long. I’ve only been swimming a few times this summer!  Usually I swim every day in the summer.

    I’ve given up sweets but can’t rest on my sugar-free laurels. Literally.  I lost a little weight when I gave up sweets on Feb. 28  - but then I gained some!  I thought no desserts meant the weight would fall off no matter what. Um, no!

    So my plan for June is to eat better, get back to the sports I love – and be happy I’m not treating myself with sugary stuff that is wicked and causes inflammation, among many other bad things.

    Here’s a back to basics video:

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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