The Second Line Rolls

As we wait for the storm…This is no Katrina…she couldn’t even stop us.  New Orleans survived.

Nothing will take down this City.

The horns will keep blowing

The drums will keep beating

The Indians will keep dancing

The parades will keep rolling

The Saints will keep marching in

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Hurricane Isaac…Prepare…Ride Out the Storm.

Tweet via DJ Soul Sister of WWOZ in New Orleans @djsoulsister

I see there is a hurricane water in effect for NOLA.  Not this again. 

The only Isaac I wanna hear from has the last name of Hayes.

As the direction of Hurricane Isaac creeps closer to us there is that instant unsettled feeling of turning your life upside down for a few days or as in Hurricane Katrina for weeks to months and for some people for years.  And Isaac is to come on that very same day, the 7th anniversary of Katrina.  The reminder is hitting us in the face.  When a hurricane is in the gulf all bets are off for anyone along the coast.  Almost half the coast is affected in some way.  And we are now under a hurricane warning.

Anxiety…knots in the stomach.  The storm has made its turn and making its decision of where exactly to go.  Make a list.  Crap no one has water left…glad I have that Brita pitcher.  Clear the gutter.  Fill anything with water.  Make ice because no one has ice…good thing I don’t eat bread because they are out already.  Geez no one is prepared?  Make food, enforce the plan.  Gas tomorrow…there are long lines now so maybe 0600 before work will be better.  Need an oil change…scratch.  Got plenty of dog and cat food.  I think…how long were we without during Katrina.  Crap, no alcohol…must save what little money I do have.  Charge phones, iPad, laptop, camera…charge everything.  Where is that boom box I never used…batteries, need batteries, what kind?  Do I even own a flashlight?  Throw out anything in freezer not needed.  Remember that horrible stink of fridges after Katrina.  Move the flying objects from outside tomorrow or tie it down…could be a category 1, 2 or 3 we don’t know.  Geez when is that next update.  Can it make a turn elsewhere please!  Relax…it will all be okay.  Accept the process and know you are safe.  Safe.

I am not evacuating this time at least not yet.  With 2 dogs and 3 cats it’s very difficult to evacuate.  But I am a survivor…I will be prepared.  I live 2 blocks from the levee which is the highest point in New Orleans and I have an upstairs in a 100-year-old home. Also I work in the marine industry.  Surely among 60 boats I can find safe harbor if needed.  Also, I have friends riding it out also in New Orleans and my old boss Louie at Matassa’s…he won’t leave.  And my dear friend, Erin, she will make sure I am safe…her door is always open on the Northshore.

I feel pretty secure.  Anxious, but secure.

I will be cooking today…cooking Paleo/primal seems fitting for this.  Burgers, beef jerky, banana pancakes, pork roast.  I will have plenty of water, ice, pet food…the essentials.   I worked out today, feeling good and feeling strong.  Instinct takes over.

Be safe Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Crescent City Connections

“Cords are made of astral and etheric energy and connect two people’s subtle bodies. They stretch between two people very much like an umbilical cord and transfer emotional energy and chi between the two. It does not matter how far away the other person is, as the cord is not a physical substance and distance is irrelevant, so it is still effective from the other side of the planet.” ~Alchemy Realm

There are connections between two people, who have shared a special bond that they, themselves, cannot describe.  Complete and natural energy within draws them together.  An instant and very strong bond of friendship and/or love.  It is a spiritual, almost psychic connection with this person, that so often words are not even needed because the connection is so strong.  It can happen miles away.  We look at this person or think of them and smile and feel happy.

It instantly forms a telepathic-like bond that when there is the touch of a hand or hug, it can feel like coming home.

I believe it is possible with everyone, but rare if the feelings are fought or the chance is not taken.  This connection forms a relationship that helps you grow and learn together and within oneself.  You get that feeling of connection when you find your best friend.  It can be a connection between two strangers.  It can be the family members or friends you are drawn to the most…who you can’t wait to see and spend time with and laugh with.  It is the connection you feel with a place you visit or live that draws you to the heart of it.  It can mean a soulmate or true love; the person with whom you feel true happiness and joy and which brings a feeling of having waited for this person your whole life…primal attraction.

Your heart and soul is called to them at the moment your eyes meet.  You just know.

UBUNTU ~ Matt Lemmler CD Release

Ubuntu
” …the collective is always stronger than the individual. That’s what music is all about-many people working together,

sharing a common creative goal. It’s deep and it’s ancient.”

 Quincy Jones

Matt Lemmler

He sits at the piano composing and creating.  He’s working.  Matt Lemmler is a quiet talent; he doesn’t like to bother his neighbors with his music.  But they love it.  Who wouldn’t love to live next to the beautiful sounds of a New Orleans jazz pianist. 

Born in a family home of musicians in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, where jazz fills the streets, he was destined to be in this musical space and time.  And now he has his newest CD, UBUNTU, releasing this upcoming weekend.  It is a collection of music that follows his passion, which is evident in his explanations of his song choices for this CD…UBUNTU is a spiritual, soulful and meaningful journey.  Matt tells us Ubuntu, “was a concept first that I had come to find and try to live by, through scriptures, sermons and the truth that is inside all of us.  I read a book by Quincy Jones, my musical mentor since I was a boy, and he shared the views of Ubuntu and that he had received the info, concept and philosophy from Nelson Mandela and Reverend Tutu.  All the Ubuntu quotes, to me, basically, say the same thing: love thy neighbor and help others first, share passions and build relationships based on equality, love and peace.”

For those in New Orleans this weekend, please come out to Matt Lemmler’s New Orleans Jazz Revival Band’s CD release concert of UBUNTU on Friday August 24th at Cafe Istanbul 8pm & 10pm, 2372 St. Claude Ave. and Sunday August 26th at Snug Harbor, 626 Frenchmen 8pm & 10pm.  I will definitely be there!

Now, please join me as Matt Lemmler explains the meanings of his chosen songs for Ubuntu.  It’s like looking into the soul of this jazz musician:

Wade in the Water
A very primitive and chanting take on a classic spiritual. I was very much inspired by the music of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” in orchestrating this and the music of Charles Mingus, Ellington, but also, the history and past of New Orleans’ Congo Square and the African influences in our music and culture and special inspiration from Harold Batiste and Dr John. Makes that spiritual music dig right down deep into our bones. Makes our spirit come alive and just express ourselves the way we are. Just the way we are to praise our existence. Our maker and our bodies. Mind, body and spirit all expressing itself through music and art.
The use of the choir chanting ‘the water’ throughout brings comfort and solace to my soul. The use of the ‘animal sounds’ as a choir and as another type of chant was influenced by the Gulf Oil Spill disaster that brought my attention to all the living beings in and out of the water, everything from microscopic creatures to dolphins, sharks, whales, and humans, all part of everything that makes this garden we live and wade in. It seems to me that their voice and spirit is sometimes ignored by our greed and selfishness. We are all part of this world, even the one’s that don’t have a way to stand up and communicate. This was the first hymn arrangement performed at my Baptism celebration at Williams Trace Church and Wading in that water changed my heart and soul. It grew 1000 times larger and was strengthened by God’s Holy Spirit. So blessed to have found my way back to the Light. The water is great!! I owe one of my 1970’s fears of the water to ‘jaws’ and to my all-time favorite composer John Williams, but also to the movie magic of a live orchestra and composed by one of the world’s greatest living composers, John Williams.

Sheep May Safely Graze
~ J.S.Bach
Inspired by Bach’s passion of music, but also of having the chance to work with my dear brother in music, Kirk Whalum. I was blessed to be able to help produce and perform atTrinity Church’s Jazz Festival and Jazz Mass and also invite Kirk as a special guest artist. His loving spirit and friendship inspired both Sheep May Safely Graze, but also most of Music of Ubuntu including Be Thou Amy Vision, Movin on Up,  These hymns, spirituals and pop songs were arranged for Trinity’s Weekly jazz services, but also put into a Mass format and premiered in 2010 as a Tribute to the Music of New Orleans. It was my last performance as music director for Trinity, before I moved back to my hometown, New Orleans.

Ode to Joy
~Beethoven
I was blessed to have been asked by my dear friend, Jennifer Davis, to orchestrate and perform this piece and others for her funeral. I had travelled and toured with Jenn and her family in the early 90’s with Phantom of the Opera and remained in touch for many years after that tour. During our evacuation from Katrina, Jenn and Paul Edwards helped my family with housing, love and fellowship for many months after Katrina’s aftermath.
Having to witness Jenn’s illness was an extremely painful and beautiful experience to go through, but afterwards, her death and her belief in God’s love, music and her love of her family inspired my heart to understand and feel God’s presence by seeing someone so filled with peace and nobility in their illness and death. Being asked to program and write the music for her funeral brought me to understand my passion of music as a blessing. It led me to create Ubuntu and follow this path towards music as a way to heal, both my soul/spirit and to allow music to heal others in need of spiritual uplifting. This passage in life and witnessing Jennifer’s strength in her Faith and in her illness, was a gift and lesson in my life journey. Her funeral was a celebration of life as her partner, Paul Edwards, expressed in his testimony of love.It was my first experience to sing and worship, while grieving a loss of a loved one, and still having my family by my side, even after divorce. God’s love is amazing to witness.

Be Thou My Vision
Originally inspired by and performed with Kirk Whalum at Trinity’s Jazz Festival. A hymn that always brings comfort to me. It’s so ancient and seems like it’s been part of our existence for many years. This track was one of the pieces that just came together in the studio on just the first take. I remember all of us going back into the control room after tracking and there we were all listening. Afterwards, there was an amazing energy of love and fellowship. It was just perfect and comforting to record, but also to say to ourselves, this came from a more powerful energy than ourselves.

Love Foundation
A beautiful piece composed by my dear friend, Michael Hurdle.  Michael asked me to arrange his piece to feature a men’s gospel quartet. Immediately after starting work on Michael’s Love Foundation, I fell in love with its message and it started to bring me comfort and understanding in salvation and it’s blessing of love. This piece along with all the hymns and spirituals on Ubuntu, brought me comfort and peace within my healing heart. To understand God’s light and love and be blessed to experience that within my passion of music was a gift.
I’ll never forget coming home one night and seeing Michael’s gift of leaving me a bible on my doorstep. His love and friendship started my journey to where I am today. I was so touched by this generosity and thoughtfulness.

Colour My World
~Originally arranged  for Offertory at Trinity Jazz Mass
This was inspired by the feeling of gratitude for God blessing men with loving women in this world, and vice versa. To finally truly understand that love that bonds men and women and becomes one. It is a beautiful way and I’m so blessed to have had these loving angels and bonds around me.
Inspired by the music of Chicago, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock and my first jazz influence, Chuck Mangione.  These artists/bands influenced my arranging passion. I used to listen to Mangione’s music when I was a teenager and was always inspired by his orchestrations and his beautiful flugelhorn horn playing. ‘feels so good’ was a number one hit in the 70’s, and was probably the last time an instrumental/jazz/rock piece ever earned a number one slot on the pop charts. The 70’s was a great time for live horn bands, rock tinged, but heavily jazz influenced. Those were the good old days for me in hearing all these wonderful horn/jazz bands be on radio and in concert halls. Those were the days that arrangers/orchestrators still were still in strong demand.

For the Bread
Originally arranged for Communion at Trinity Jazz Mass. One of my favorite pieces on Ubuntu for its improv and dialogue between the horns and the rhythm section and its beautiful message of Gratitude. A smaller instrumentation but so full of depth and a special communion between the musicians.

Movin On Up
Another song inspired by Kirk Whalum’s visit to Houston, but also from the 70’s TV show, “The Jeffersons”,  jazz pianist Roger Kelloway’s, “All in the Family” and always the spirit of one of my musical/life heroes,  Quincy Jones.

Savior, Like a Shepherd
Originally performed with Kirk Whalum at Trinity Jazz Fest, but also dedicated to my dear friend, Randy Bigbee. Another painful and beautiful lesson was to witness Randy’s loss of his son and to experience and watching how his family’s Faith in God softened their pain/loss and how music can be a healing gift. I still feel pain when I think of this life’s tragedy, but I feel Love and blessings to have Randy as my friend and brother. Thank you, Randy, for showing me the way and also leading me to my first revival!!

Tumbalalaika/Sunrise, Sunset
While I was in the process of arranging the music for Trinity’s jazz mass/Fest, I was also making the transition to move back to New Orleans after living and working in Houston,TX for 5 years. One day, while I was composing upstairs in my studio in New Orleans, my neighbors downstairs, Ellie and Richard, were having some health issues. I remember not knowing what to say or how to make them feel better. I realized that music is what I could offer in hopes of bringing them comfort. Ellie suggested I play/ sing Tumbalalaika. I found the music and fell in love with its tone and vibe. Tumbalalaika made a great verse to Fiddler on the Roof’s, Sunrise/Sunset. It was awakening to me to offer music whenever I couldn’t help in any other way. To give my passion fully to help others and have Faith that music does heal.

Tomorrow
The broadway musical, “Annie” was the first NYC musical I witnessed as a teenager. I remember the experience of performing trumpet with Holy Cross marching band and being invited to NYC to march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. What an amazing experience to goto NYC for the first time, march in the parade, but also tour the city. We all went to see this musical and I remember being enchanted by the live musicians performing in that orchestra. Hearing those world-class musicians and being in NYC as a child, will always be an inspiration. Having live musicians perform with orchestras is a spiritual experience and I pray that our children get to witness these performances more than ever, as more live music is being cut due to ‘financial’ cuts. Music and the arts should always be made a priority!

Amen
Another great hymn that was performed For Trinity Church’s Jazz Mass. I was inspired by Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini and Neal Hefti’s “Odd Couple”. The 70’s was a great time to experience all these great tv shows and movies using great jazz inspired scores with outstanding arrangers and studio musicians.One of my mission statements is to keep the art of arranging for live bands alive. A tradition that seems to be a dying art in today’s world of computer and synthesized instruments, yet such a powerful art to bring horns and strings together. To combine various live instruments in order to create a specific sound. To write for specific musicians to creat a specific sound. This is one of the hopes I’d like to share with the music of Ubuntu. A collection of spiritual pieces performed and recorded in a live studio setting. No overdubs, no studio tricks. Just talented, live studio musicians creating music with original arrangements custom-made for the recording. I hope you enjoy this music and support it by having the New Orleans Jazz Revival Band come perform for you.
Amen
Matt Lemmler

Great Things to do with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become one of my favorite ingredients in the kitchen.  LOVE the flavor my unrefined coconut oil gives to my eggs, vegetables and meats.  Hell I’ve had spoonfuls of it and it makes me feel great! And the healthy fat it provides my body is so beneficial.

And over the past few months I found out other wonderful personal benefits of coconut oil.  With research, I’ve found that not just what we put in our bodies is harmful to us, but also what we put ON our bodies can be harmful also.  Liz Wolfe at Cave Girl Eats says, “If you’re serious about improving your health from all angles, take the ‘I don’t eat crap’ mentality one step farther – start getting rid of the crap in your self-care products. What do you have to lose?”  And if you think all skin products are safe because they are on the shelf, think again.  Liz also says, “The best part, though, is the new sense of connection to your body that arises when you take your routine out of the hands of Methylparaben and Benzalkonium Chloride. There are very few laws governing the ingredients in personal care products. If an ingredient won’t kill you instantly, it can probably find its way into a PCP.  A product has only to contain CARBON to be TECHNICALLY considered part of an “organic” body product. “Dermatologist Tested” means very little. And “Non-comedogenic” simply means the product doesn’t cause comedones. Zits. Congratulations, Zit-fighting product. Your best advertising technique is to tell everyone your product doesn’t. Cause. Zits. Because if it did, I suppose we’d have a REAL problem on our hands.”

Rubbing layers of chemical-filled creams, lotions and sunscreen on our bodies goes IN to our pores.  Even the hair products we use can enter the body.  Knowing all this I have started in simple ways to change some of my daily body care habits and like all things in my life these days I have a goal to change all my body care to natural products.  I don’t eat junk anymore and I don’t want to put junk on my body anymore.  I’m going to live this Paleo lifestyle inside and out!

Since it will take some time and effort to make soap, lotions and other products, I started with the best and easiest product I could find already at home…Coconut oil!

  1. No more lotions from Bath and Body or Victoria Secret…I started spreading on coconut oil all over my body after my shower instead of lotion.  Smells delicious and my skin feels wonderful; super soft.  No more dry crusty feet or elbows! Eventually I will add some other scents to infuse into the oil.
  2. Coconut oil makes a perfect make-up remover.  I looked at the ingredients in my regular make-up remover and couldn’t believe all that went into it and the coconut oil worked great.
  3. Have you seen how expensive products for hair shine or de-frizz are?  Forget them…try a little (just a little!) coconut oil to smooth onto your hair.  Works great, well the best it can in Louisiana humidity!
  4. And for hair again, it makes a great occasional full conditioner.  Put a good amount over your hair and leave on for about 30-60 minutes then wash out with shampoo or even cider vinegar works too if you want to go very natural.
  5. For make up I use coconut oil  to put on my face before foundation and I use very little of that anymore.  I know you are thinking your skin would break-out, but believe me my skin is very sensitive growing up with acne, and it’s done wonders for my skin.  I believe eating real food only and putting good products on my skin, the appearance is much better!
  6. For the lips. Makes a nice light gloss and moisturizer for my lips. I found a small little container for my purse to put on whenever.
  7. And finally one I haven’t tried, but will (on a day off alone first…LOL) is for deodorant!  Cavegirleats.com says, “go with the trusty combo of baking soda and coconut oil. A swipe of oil topped with a dash of BS will leave you odor-free all day.”

That’s a start!  I’ve been searching for good recipes also for lotions, bars for soap or insect repellents, shampoos and even laundry cleaners and I have found some great ones on http://cavegirleats.com/ and http://wellnessmama.com/ if you would like to check them out.  And if you try them before I do or have recipes of your own, then pass them to me and I’ll share.

Well, I know you’re thinking I’m going hippy, but it’s more Paleo hippy…it’s the hippy that’s healthy and smells good…like coconuts.

No Regrets!

My Dad told me to never have regrets, no matter what decisions I make.  He said you can’t have regrets because you learn from your mistakes.  He taught me well even though I took a million different directions in my life, and I learned and had plenty of experiences that may have felt regretful at the time, but then led to something special.  I also believe the above statement…don’t regret the things you didn’t do in life…chances you didn’t take.  I know too many people who stay in situations that make them unhappy and feel stuck.  “Too involved, too old, not enough money…I can’t”.

All changes and situations in our life, good or bad, are life-learning and help you grow.  I know this well.  These situations will assist in the decision-making in our life and lead us to happiness.  At least I would hope.  No one said it would be easy to obtain.

Do you accept the fear, embrace it and take chances? Do you have anything or anyone in your life that holds you back? Are the people closest to you supportive of you in what you do and the chances you want to take?  Maybe you have the love of your life and they support you fully, but then you hold yourself back from a goal or a dream.  Or perhaps you want to take a chance on a career change, but have no support.  Or maybe you’re in love with someone you feel you cannot have in your life…or maybe you’re out of love with someone you feel you cannot leave.

So if you had to do it all over again, would you be in the relationship you are in now, have the friends you have now, have the job you have now, have the home you have now, live in the city you live now?  Are the 5 or even 10 people you are closest to now the same people you would choose if you had the chance to do it over again? Are you living the life you had hoped for yourself?  Are you happy in each aspect of your life?

Are you willing to take a chance, make that leap and that change in your life that will make you happy?

We have this one little life to live.  Don’t have any regrets.

It’s Not Just a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

Paleo diet, Caveman (or Cavewoman) diet…whatever you want to call it, it’s more than a diet, it’s a decision to change your life for the better.  It’s about obtaining and maintaining ultimate health…more and great sleep…forming a community…little stress…making time to play…make time for yourself…positive attitude…loving yourself…more fun…lifting heavy things and enjoying it…happiness.  It’s getting back to the basics.  Adapt to nature.  It’s about spending time with family and friends, laughing together, eating together, playing together…sharing life.

When I took on the diet part I didn’t know about anything more than taking control of my health, which really, when you take care of this main part the rest of it falls into place.  With all the research I did, I realized in order to have the best health possible I would have to put the whole picture into perspective.

Surprisingly most of the changes came naturally with the diet; hard to explain.  Even though I’ve adapted to the diet 100%, I am still working on the lifestyle…this requires more discoveries, more time and more changes I am more than willing to make.  I like this life.

  • Exercise becomes more natural.  Lift heavy things.  Take long walks (walk dogs).  Feel stronger.
  • Enjoy nature.  Listen to the night sounds.  Savor the sound of waves on a beach.  Watch sunsets and sunrises. Encounter nature alone or with others.  You will just be more aware of your surroundings.
  • Discover all the parks around you.  I know of several parks in Southeast Louisiana that I would love to visit again.  It’s peaceful.
  • Enjoy the sun and feel the benefits of natural vitamin D without coating our skin with chemicals.
  • Sleep for 8-9 hours a night because it makes us feel good, productive and necessary for good health.
  • Learn to appreciate real food and how it is made.  Discover real farmers who raise animals, vegetables, eggs and fruits in a natural way.  You will just be more thoughtful about your food and make better decisions about what you put in your body when you commit to only eating whole real food.
  • Discover new local places to get your meats like a local butcher or a farmer’s market.  Plant some vegetables or herbs.
  • Researching to know what foods make you healthy and why.  What nutrients and vitamins are contained in food you eat.  It not only gives you more knowledge for yourself, but you will be able to help others.
  • Spending time with family and the people you love.  My last trip home was more significant to me than I ever thought it would be and that is saying a lot. Laughing, playing, cooking together.  From sunsets and boating to a concert to happy hours to BBQ family gatherings to cooking together and laughing together.  Really enjoy good times.
  • Finding people with like interests with the Paleo lifestyle and forming a little community of friends to bond with.  Maybe it’s in the city or an online group.
  • Simple living.  Cut things out that have no meaning.  Throw things away that aren’t necessary.  Maybe it’s time to just live a little more basic because it is really all you need.  You will find you will appreciate what you own more than before.  It might be papers, books, Mardi Gras beads, clothes that don’t fit.  Maybe it’s people in your life that clutter your head.
  • Enjoy slow living.  Have a campfire or make a fire pit.  Walk in the rain…I do have my shrimp boots :). Have a picnic.  Go camping.  Go canoeing or kayaking.  Go fishing. Go boating to enjoy that sunset. Plant a garden. Stare up at the sky and star-gaze.  Play games.  Be silly. Throw water balloons.  Build a fort inside or outside.
  • Be creative.  Creative art, writing (hey who would have thought I would have started a blog!), photography, building things, collecting, sewing.  Make it fun.  Creating makes you happy…believe me.

You get the idea.  I still like the Paleo or Caveman lifestyle to describe it…maybe that forgotten world is really what it’s supposed to be like for us humans. We know all animals should eat, live and play in their own natural way, but that’s changed for us, but why? Sure progress is wonderful, but not if we are too sick, too busy or sad to enjoy it.  It’s a nice feeling to eventually have a stress-free, peaceful, happy life…one in which I am fulfilled on the outside and the inside.  Euphoria.  That’s what I’m striving for.  I feel I make discoveries about myself, my life and my surroundings daily.  Ever-changing.  Becoming fearless.

Love this song…it’s a little primal in sound and the only words “Don’t think about all those things you fear, just be glad to be here”.

Red Dress Run…Summer Fun in New Orleans

It’s hot here and it’s been raining for what seems to be several weeks.  This does not stop New Orleans from having fun.  Thankfully the rain ended early today for one of the most fun times here…the Red Dress Run.  One week after the Satchmo Fest and tonight we have Dirty Linen Night on Royal Street.  And Red will mix with the dirty whites of the gallery seekers tonight.

I worked today, but this does not stop me or anyone else witnessing the effects of Red Dress Run.  I watch my neighbors stumbling in their houses all adorned in their red dresses.  Even my neighbors, who I always think of as very straight-laced came house a little wobbly, slurring words shouting of a great time and that I need to come next year!  As the sun sets they are still lingering in the neighborhoods.

The “race” is downtown starting and ending in the French Quarter…not sure how many of the 8000 or so ever make it to the end with the bar hopping in between!  When I lived in the Quarter, if I didn’t participate, it sure was fun to walk around and take in the red dress sightings.  Nothing like a straight hairy beer-bellied guy in a too tight red dress he borrowed from his wife!  Very funny!

For 18 years this run has been going on and proceeds go to various charities and non-profits and it’s just plain ole a hell of a lot of fun.  So if you’re not from here check it out and put in on your calendar and don’t be afraid of a little Louisiana heat.  Check out Red Dress Run on Facebook or the Hash House Harriers who are the self-proclaimed group the “drinking club with a running problem”.  So mark your calendars…I don’t want to miss this again next year!

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Note: some of the pics are from local photographer and cookbook author Roy Guste who has some amazing photos of New Orleans!  You can also find him on Facebook.

Be Prolific, Not Perfect

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
– A. A. Milne ~ Winnie-The-Pooh

Just a thought tonight.

(And who wouldn’t want to hear a quote from Winnie the Pooh and Ghandi in the same post?!)

We do this to ourselves and mostly others convince us of this…be perfect.  Be disappointed in yourself if you are not perfect.  Wow, how messed up!  I do this to myself in my art…trying to make it perfect, but why?  Will it be worth more? Or is it just to make me feel better about myself…make it look like I tried harder, but only to myself.  When I just have to look at my painting and say Yeah, looks pretty damn good and I’m done. Sign it and it’s over.

Some are so busy trying to be perfect that they self-destruct or fail miserably.  They are so consumed with their perfection they would rather lose a relationship, lose respect or lose composure than to be seen as imperfect.

For others sometimes I see this fear they have of what “they”, will think of them.  “They” can be family, friends or people you don’t even know.  I see people judge and be judged all the time. Hell, I see it on Facebook daily…wear this…this job is better than yours…you can’t be in this type of relationship…you must believe my religion…you must vote for my guy…the “you are wrong I am right” attitude.  How pompous!  They don’t say these things because they care or really want to give guidance. This person can believe what they want, but they don’t need to impose it on others to make you perfect in their eyes. People want to tell you how to live your life; if what you do is acceptable to them.  If you allow them to run your life, first they will feel they need to control everyone else in their lives in the same manner, and second you will not be living your own life.  This person cannot tell you how to dress, what job you should have, who to vote for, what God to believe in, how much money you should make, or what relationship is perfect for you in their eyes.  You live this life to be happy…to love yourself…to love others…a self-satisfying life.  Don’t question yourself because of the intrusion of others thoughts, live your life according to your own beliefs and believe me happiness and inner peace will prevail.

We need to be creative to the best of our abilites…be productive in all that we do….live a life that completes us.  And just stop and be satisfied that we have done our best according to ourselves, be happy with what decisions we make and know we don’t have to be perfect.  We can make mistakes and still succeed knowing we were prolific and not perfect.

And yep, be happy with the work we did, sign the painting and move on.

 A “No” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “Yes” merely uttered to please,

or what is worse, to avoid trouble.

~Mahatma Gandhi

Paleo Pizza Recipe

Well, vacation is over and as I’m cooking my turkey meatballs and chili for lunches and dinners and decided to post some recipes this week.  Along with some I’ve played with over my vacation, a good friend of mine, Lyle Gadin, had a couple wonderful recipes he has sent me that I wanted to share with you.  Lyle is a personal/group trainer, who was one of my trainers at GymMatrix and he has since moved his family back to Seattle.  Like many people, even being a trainer at a gym does not mean you always keep your diet healthy.  He is the one that first mentioned the Paleo Diet to me and got me interested…so we started approximately at the same time.  What is special about Lyle’s situation compared to mine is that he has a wife and small children to satisfy and keep healthy…and in the past couple months he has dropped 20+ pounds and he feels better than ever.  Lyle came up with the following recipes for Paleo Pizza (yes Paul and Kim we can enjoy PIZZA!) and Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf aka “The Bacon Bomb” that I plan on trying soon.   The Bacon Bomb will be coming up soon.  If you are wondering why regular pizza should not be consumed, well…sugar, gluten, grains, processed ingredients…so go ahead and try this one that you can make and not feel guilty…filled with good fats and necessary nutrients.

Please follow Lyle on Twitter @lyle_g or his group training facebook page Peak212 – Small Group Training

PALEO PIZZA (from the kitchen of Lyle Gadin):

Ingredients (found them all at Whole Foods):
2 cups almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill – not as coarse)
1 cup arrowroot powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. – ish oregano (I used fresh organic and diced oregano)
1 1/2 tsp. – ish basil (I also used fresh and diced basil)
1 tbsp. – ish of finely diced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 425°. The batter is like pancake mix consistency, FYI.

I mixed everything and put it in a butter greased round 9″ cooking pan (you might want to use some type of lard, the base did stick a little to my non-stick pan even with butter. After some patient utensil work, I got the pizza bases out unbroken)

I wanted thin crust so I cooked the batter for 6 – 8 mins to firm up then took it out to cool down so I could put the toppings (then I repeated this 4 more times since I only have one Pan, lol). Just make sure the middle is firm. I was able to get 4 thin Pizza bases out of this. If you want a thicker base, maybe cook it 8 – 10 mins so the middle is firm.

I used organic tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni, roasted bell pepper, mushrooms…whatever.

Then I cooked for another 8 – 10 mins at 425° to cook ingredients ( and I like a crispy crust)

I would like to add that you can use any meats or veggies on your pizza, be creative and when you use bacon or pepperoni please use “nitrate free”.  And having made my Paleo pancakes several times, in order to keep from sticking, try some grass-fed butter room at room temperature mixed into the crust ingredients.  For some Paleo people who can tolerate dairy, please use grass-fed raw cheeses or a good parmesan. If you make this, please let us know what toppings you tried! Enjoy!!

Do It Yourself Gym

For this vacation I decided not to go with a gym for my workouts. Knowing we would be very busy (relaxing takes a lot of energy!) I wanted to utilize what I had on-hand to create an optimal workout

First let me tell you that I workout 5-6 days a week…I enjoy my time at the gym. I also wanted to use my vacation time as a little vacation for my muscles so if you fall in this category maybe focus on a few extra days off from working out.

If you can pack a few home workout items like an exercise ball, hand weights, a jump rope or a band then do so. As you see in the photo I found a few things around Paul and Kim’s house to use. The full half-gallon dish soap bottle made a great low weight kettle bell. Or look for anything with a handle…full bleach or laundry bottle, full paint can…you get the idea just look around. Next I found a full 20lb bag of kitty litter…great for Russian twists or sling it over your shoulder to either do lunges or just plain ole haul it around the yard or up and down stairs if available. No kitty litter? Then look for bags of sand, dirt or even dog food.

This all works for those who don’t have a gym membership and always seem to find an excuse not to work out.  No excuses!!

Otherwise take a walk or a hike (use a hill if you can – or I use the levee in New Orleans), keep that core tight  and lift something heavy when you can!

Breathe In, Breathe Out

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Three days with no phone, no Internet and no television.  Ahhh felt great…and although most times I love our advanced ways of life, I sure do appreciate rustic semi-primitive life.

My brother, Paul, his wife, Kim and I have just returned from Long Lake in the southern central part of Michigan. Rolling hills, country side, small towns, Amish villages and many lakes filled with summer vacation homes and boats. People from the cities flock here on the weekends looking for their escape from reality. Kim’s family has been coming to their cottage for many years; her grandfather having built the house in the 1940’s and most of her life is filled with wonderful memories that include times on this lake.

And we’ve created new memories the past few days.  Boating, swimming in the lake, home-cooked meals, campfires, sunning on the dock and sunset cruises. My dogs, Mama Bear and Bandit enjoyed hikes in the woods and their first boat rides on the pontoon boat.  We all shared childhood memories and dreams of living like this all the time.  Why can’t it always feel this good…this relaxing?  Really, why can’t it?  Although I love living in New Orleans, the thoughts of traffic, construction and busy neighborhoods really can squeeze the life out of you sometimes…making it difficult to relax.  Being at that lake was like it’s own form of meditation for me and I’m sure for Paul and Kim too.  Actually I know it has, because it brings them home to figure out what obsticles lie in their way trying to incorporate more of that oasis of a lake in their regular life.  And how can I when I get back to New Orleans?  More walks in the parks, strolling the quiet areas of the French Quarter, hiking the swamps and woods…I don’t know.  Breathe in, breathe out…

But I will have some great memories left for me on this trip…a refreshed feeling.  There is no sense of urgency right now.

My favorite part to this song: “I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain…going where the weather suits my clothes.”