Friday, December 29, 2017


Letting Go. Be Calm. Be Courageous

At this time of year, many online artists and writers look for a new word to define what they want to accomplish in the coming year.

A couple of years ago, I picked the theme of Letting Go. I used that idea in paintings, often using a butterfly as a symbol, and in writings that helped me open the windows and let the imaginary butterfly in myself go.

Last year as I thought about a new choice word, nothing resonated with me. I decided to let whatever word repeated itself throughout the year become My Word. As the months went by, I realized that the word Joy often came up in my life, in my work, and in my writings, which in a year of turmoil, came as a surprise to me. I spent much of the year feeling anger, frustration, and helplessness over an election that had made obvious fundamental changes in our democracy. Looking back though, the first moment of joy came on Jan.21 when I joined 2.6 million other women and their supporters in the Women's March.

Joy kept cropping up. I felt joy while sitting in art classes talking and working with other creatives. I felt joy while meeting old friends for lunch, and getting together with family and friends for significant reunions. I felt joy observing our son as a maturing person with thoughtful ideas and the ability to express them, and I felt joy being with his girlfriend and seeing the comfortable interchange between the two. I felt joy in reading, sitting outside enjoying the weather, eating meals, watching sports, and laughing together with my husband. The joys of friendship, the joy of accomplishing a hard task, and the joy of being part of a family -- all came to the surface many times last year -- even with obvious upheaval all over the world. Joy was in those connections.

Elizabeth Fishel, leader of Wednesday Writers, the writing group that I belong to, once said that to write about small things is to write about universal experiences. In those everyday events, we can find joy.

Next year a new word. I have been paying attention again for a word that resonates. I was listening to KQED to an interview with Dr. Robert Lustig. His point that we need to slow down to have a fulfilling life is not new. He suggests that we all need to Connect, Contribute, Cope and Cook. Cook?
Yes, cook for two reasons: one, to eliminate sugars from our diet; and two, to share a homemade meal. So, I am heading to the kitchen right now to put together a hearty chicken and fresh vegetable soup that I can share with Bill, which will fill us up with energy and warmth and give us a good start to the new year.

What word do you choose for 2018?

Here's the recipe for Garden Vegetable Soup

6 medium tomatoes
6-8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth 
splash of apple cider
1 turnip
4 medium potatoes, cubed
3 stalks, celery with tops, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 small bunches, broccoli with stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms
1 cup raw spinach
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

Add the following after the other vegetables have been processed:
1 small cubed potato
carrot rounds
1 cucumber, shredded
1 yellow squash, shredded
1 zucchini, shredded
2 tsp salt
cooked, shredded chicken, if desired

Place vegetables in a large pot and cover with broth. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (check the potatoes for doneness).  Take out about a quarter of the vegetables and process in a food processor. Pour processed vegetables into a large bowl. Repeat processing small amounts of vegetables until all the vegetables have been done.  Pour back into soup pot. Add remaining vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add chicken, if desired.
author of Getting to 30: a Parent's Guide to the 20-Something Years,
author of Sugar Has 56 Names & The Hacking of the American Mind


  1. Nice post and what a soup! OMG! So many ingredients that are good for the body! Now, thanks to you, I will try to think of a word for the upcoming new year....hmmmm...

  2. Yes, and you can feel those ingredients going to work right away. Great energy-lifter! Thanks for being such an active reader of my blog, Jan.

  3. Cook--I like that, it really provokes action instead of thinking...! Years ago I got 'Mrs Ma's Chinese Cookbook' at Bookshop Santa Cruz. There's a cabbage soup recipe there that is simple and satisfying. It uses Napa Cabbage which lends a nice texture and a sweet nutty flavor to the milk-enriched broth. I may make some tonight! thanks for the inspiration. Hoping 2018 is enriching to you!

    1. I'm glad I inspired you to cook that soup. Care to share the recipe? Sounds good!

  4. Food for body and soul in this post, Martha--thank you! My word for 2018 is Today. Life is too short to put off creating, learning, and reaching out to others.

    1. Thank you, Teresa! I love your word for 2018: Today. I may borrow it too.


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