Tag Archives: baby boomer women

Question of the Week: What News Story Brings Back Your Early Teenage Years?

This is an experiment to see if we can get our readers to join in more of a dialogue with us.  We are going to pose a question each week, and see if we can get some interesting responses.  The question for this week is:  “What one news story do you most associate with your early teenage years for you and why?”

Here’s my answer:  The assassination of Martin Luther King

And here’s why: at the time of King’s assassination, I was living on an Army post in Germany and feeling sad about our tour there coming to an end—and I was more than a little worried about going back to the States and entering high school.  There was a string of assassinations that summer—first King and then Bobby Kennedy—and these events had a powerful effect on me, much more so even than John Kennedy’s death, since I was only in the 4th grade for that one.

The thing is that James Early Ray changed more than just one man’s life that day when he pulled that trigger:  my whole world was turned upside down.  The news stories and the pictures from that one event was that the United States had changed, in my head, from a place where beloved relatives lived and you could buy a wonderful hamburger into a land where good people got shot down.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta

The States suddenly seemed dramatically different from our secure, enclosed post at the top of a hill overlooking the little town of Landstuhl, and I couldn’t think about going back there without having day-mares and nightmares.  And now, whenever I think about King’s assassination, I feel that same scary, sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.  His death was not just the death of a great person—it was the first of many events that shook up my world and made me feel very aware of death, very aware of evil, very aware of how unpredictable and frightening a place the world could be.


Sadhvi Sez: Being in Love with Nature


I don’t know what is going on lately, but the more I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world, the more I find myself going inside.  It’s not that I don’t care about people and things that are newsworthy, it’s just that I think I’m at the point of screaming, “Uncle!”

Thankfully, Spring has arrived here.  Interestingly enough, the plant growth rate seems to be very rapid this year.  I mean, the mint just started to come up a week or so ago, and now it’s a foot high where I haven’t pinched any off for the rabbits.  Everything seems to be growing so quickly.  The cilantro that overwintered is bolting; the nettle is almost 3 feet high; the rhubarb is flowering already.  Hmmm.

While taking my evening walk with my dog tonight, I was aware that today is “Earth Day”.  I looked around at the green growth that was everywhere, and I felt so much joy.  Even though it was a busy day with work, I knew that this is the last week to plant poppy seeds, and I had saved some bachelor buttons from last year, the blue ones, and those needed to get in the ground.  Then I have to move a couple of rose plants that are spaced a bit too close together, and…then I smelled something that made me smile:  plum blossoms!  It’s such a unique smell that reminds me of the way my grandmother, Mabel Carter, who is long dead, used to smell.  Then I needed to get some compost and when I rounded the corner, I smelled the sweet shrub that had opened drifting in the air, just like a ripe melon!


So yes, the world will go on getting more and more insane.  That’s fine.  I am drawing a line in the ground: I am going to start to feed Sadhvi what she likes.  It’s time.  Funny when I opened the mailbox and saw that my TIME magazine subscription was about to run out, you know what, I tore it in half and threw it in the trash on my way to feed and water the chickens.


“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” 
Minnie Aumonier


My Life Doesn’t Fit In My Jeans!

Cynthia Ackrill, MD

Ask an audience of 500 high-achieving women what isn’t fitting for them and you will get a lot of answers – from jeans to life to some things that truly can’t be printed! But over and over I hear recurring themes. We want to feel like our life fits, like our precious time and energy is spent in ways that reflect our values, in ways that make us feel effective, and in ways that leave us energy to take care of ourselves and have some fun! 

Why is this so hard? Why do so many truly remarkable women feel drained, their energy scattered in so many directions? To address this critical subject, we’ve invited Cynthia Ackrill, MD to share her expertise and understanding with our readers.

The secret may be in the error of the phrase I just used: “in ways that leave us energy to take care of ourselves and have some fun!” This is completely backwards! Yet, it is such a pervasive concept it is part of our culture. We take care of ourselves last, even give ourselves and each other kudos for the sheer martyrdom of it all. We are secretly competitive to do more than those around us. We are continually rewarded for external achievement, not for our ability to balance healthy self-care with managing the challenges of careers and lives. Sure, you might get noticed for dropping some weight, but it is rare for our culture- corporate or otherwise- to recognize the art of life balance.

Yet aren’t we drawn to those folks who have that grounded-ness, that vitality that comes from putting themselves on their own to-do list? And don’t we really know, somewhere deep inside, that making sure we have stoked the fires of our energy resources pays off–getting enough sleep, good nutrition, movement, recreation, social connection, etc. We certainly know it when we send children off to school. We know their little bodies must have the basic needs met to learn. Yet we expect our brains to be creative when cheating our rest and nutrients.  

Energy spent must be replaced. It’s not linear, by any means. Beyond the basic human needs, what refuels us varies. But we are all systems that operate best when balanced. And often it takes so little to tip the scales back toward balance. 10 minutes of me-time in the middle of a day can recharge batteries for hours. 10 minutes! 2 minutes of breath work can reset your brain and heart- how cool!

What can you do for yourself today to help your life fit? To reclaim some energy for your fabulous life?

To learn more about Cynthia Ackrill, speaker, coach and president of WellSpark, please visit her at her website.

Ask Johanna: On Husbands

We hope this month’s “Ask Johanna”  will resonate with many of our readers.  (There is something about being over 50 that makes us just a tad less patient with our spouses.)

Dear Johanna,

My husband is on Oxycotin for pain, following surgery on his back.  I don’t know if it’s the drugs or him, but he is driving me crazy.  I have been busting my butt cooking for him and preparing restaurant-quality meals, and here is a typical response:  “Boy, this shrimp is tough.  What did you do to it?”  Or, in response to fresh collard greens, sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and ginger:  “These collard greens are chewy!”  I’m trying to be loving and understanding and, since he’s totally immobilized, I’ve stopped myself short of screaming, “Why don’t you cook for yourself or order out?!!!”—but my patience is wearing thin.  Am I being overly sensitive?

Frustrated in Phoenix

Dear Frustrated, I say get him a feeding tube and go dancin’!  Or, if that seems harsh, how about upping the dose of his oxycotin just one night and letting him drift happily into dreamland while you get yourself away from that kitchen?!

Dear Johanna,

My husband is starting another new business—for the 10th time—and it is taken all of our resources.  We’ve used up all of our savings, and there is nothing left.  Yesterday, he said, “I wish I had an extra $3,000—I could really make this business into something.”  I held out my arms and said, “Here, take my last vein!  You want me to give plasma for money?” Tell me, Johanna, was I being too mean?  I want to be a supporting wife, but I have nothing left!

Vehement in Virginia

Dear Vehement, I’d say you’ve done well to have been so nice to him through 9 other ventures!  And, besides, I’m not big on being the perfect wife.  Whenever I try to be one, all I end up with is a giant knot in my stomach—which can only be untangled by a good, cathartic blow-up at my husband.  I recommend it!  It releases stress.  It clears the air.  It may even make you like him again.  Go for it!

Dear Johanna,

My husband insists that he is not hard of hearing and does not need a hearing aid, but every time he watches something on television, he turns up the volume so loud that I’m surprised the neighbors don’t come over to watch the game with him! What can I do?

Going Deaf in Detroit

Dear Deaf, Don’t even try to convince him that he’s deaf.  Just get him one of those wonderful sets of wireless headphones with adjustable volume.  Then, he can turn up his own volume, while you sit happily watching the t.v. at your own, comfortable level.  And, if the store clerk happens to mention that the headphones are tailor-made for deaf people, so be it!

How to Roast Chestnuts the Right Way!

Sakshi and Sadhvi

When we moved here from Switzerland, I set up our chestnut stand outside the local health food store.  In Switzerland there was a very regular sort of exchange when someone came to buy chestnuts, and it was short, predictable, pleasant, and even kind of a sing-songish exchange that went something like this:

“Greetings! What would you like?”

“I would like a medium bag, please.”

“It would be my pleasure!”

I would hand the customer their bag of hot, roasted chestntus, they would pay, I would say thank you, wish them a nice day, and they would do the same.  The end.

So when my very first customer came to the stand here in Asheville, her question of “How much fat is in them, and how many calories do they contain?” really threw me because I didn’t know what to say!  I mean, everyone in Switzerland knows what chestnuts are, no one cared how many grams of fat they contain, and you either liked them or didn’t.  But when you smelled them in the air, you knew that it was Fall, and Winter was on its way!

It turns out that many Americans know and love chestnuts, so that first customer was not the norm, thank goodness.

I like using chestnuts in a lot of my fall and winter cooking, from marroni crème, to soups, to stir-frying them with rice and veggies, to layering them between flourless chocolate tortes.  Or just simply with a good bottle of red wine and some Italian salami.

How I love Roasted Chestnuts!!!
How I love Roasted Chestnuts!!!

You already know that you have to buy them NOW.  Most grocers think that chestnuts are nuts, so they don’t refrigerate them.  Too bad because they are NOT nuts and they are very perishable. They need to be refrigerated right away, in the lowest part of the fridge when you get home from the store.

Actually the best way to store them is to score them (a box cutter works fine), and then freeze them in a ziplock bag.  Now if you read Italian cookbooks or even our beloved Julia Child, they will tell you to score them on the flat side.  Wrong!  Score them on the rounded side, from “ear to ear”.

So in case you don’t have a handsome Swiss chestnut roaster in your neck of the woods, but you love roasted chestnuts like I do, here is how to roast them the right way!

Making Roasted Chestnuts the Right Way!

  • Preheat oven to the highest temperature on bake
  • Put baking sheet/cast iron pan in oven for 5 min. or so to get it hot
  • Take chestnuts directly from freezer or refrigerator and place them on baking sheet one layer thick
  • In about 5 minutes or so, use a wooden spoon (or your hands in an oven mitt) to stir, and cut back temperature to about 475 F
  • Keep moving them around every 5 minutes until done, which might be around 25 min.  They are done when the chestnut is no longer glossy, but matte, and when you take your thumb nail and press into it and it gives a little (like a done boiled potato).
  • Wait a few minutes until you can pick them up without burning your fingers.  Open them like a snapdragon to get the outside shell off.  Store them in the fridge for a couple of days if you need to.  Enjoy!