My Funny Valentine

"I kissed Anthony, it felt like fireworks and loveliness! It was like drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire after playing outside in the snow." That was the text message I received a few days ago from my 19-year-old cousin, Emily. A freshman in college, she's head over heels for a new boy. The text made me smile. I remember those days – a time when nothing else seemed to matter except spending time together, even if it meant doing nothing. And, let's face it, as a broke college student nothing was a very popular pastime. Time flew by and stood still at the same time. Every kiss felt amazing and every second apart felt like a thousand years. Emily is going to have an incredible Valentine’s Day this year. I'm 33 and married so I have over a decade of experience on my cousin and that's probably why she confides in me with text messages like that. Plus, she thinks I’m still young enough to be cool, so I’ve got that going for me. If I were to send a text message back to […]
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Creating an unforgettable Valentine’s Day for couples

Forget the typical dinner and a movie, this year you and your significant other are going to make cupid proud. Whether your relationship is fairly new or has passed the test of time, you and your loved one won’t forget this Valentine’s Day when you give the following a try: Doing a ‘selfie’ photoshoot Document your love and practice your artistic talent with the selfie, or rather, the “couplie”. Grab your camera or phone and take photos with your guy at cool spots around the area that mean something to both of you. Don’t be afraid to snap a few silly ones! Some cities even have cutest couple photo contests this time of year, so pick out your best pics for submission. Taking a class Going out to learn some new skills on Valentine’s Day is a great way to break from the norm. Take a cooking class, learn to samba, make some art together— there are a lot of options out there. Getting an adrenaline rush Save the cuddling for later and venture out to explore […]
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More than Milk and Cookies: Christmas Food for Thought

An elaborate holiday meal surrounded by family on Christmas Day is something often taken for granted. I grew up in what can only be described as a “Leave it to Beaver” family: a new hand-sewn nightgown every Christmas Eve, gifts and cinnamon cider the next morning, and turkey with all the trimmings. With few exceptions, this was Christmas, but my husband’s childhood experiences sparked a meaningful change in the way I think of this day. Roy grew up with little to no tradition and quite literally very little food. From a young age, he and his brothers were often forced to resort to stealing from grocery stores and searching fast food dumpsters for anything resembling protein. While his success in business afforded him a comfortable lifestyle in adulthood, his desire to help others remains one of his most inspirational qualities. Shortly after we married, we adopted a “give, not get” tradition. Instead of exchanging presents, we bought food, personal supplies, and gifts […]
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A Bountiful Life

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? Sumptuous food, the warmth of family and friends brought together in a collective spirit of togetherness, and the opportunity for a little much needed reflection on the important things in life. If you are fortunate enough to have even one person to sit down at the table with and enjoy a solid home cooked meal, then the meaning of Thanksgiving rings just as true. By being thankful, by pausing to see the positive aspects of our past and present reality, we raise the quality of our lives. By simply pushing out all those nagging pessimistic thoughts that invade our consciousness daily, we become the contented, grateful people we want to be, at least for a while. It truly is simple and it is quite simply true. My husband and I will host the family dinner this year, and I must say I wasn’t that keen on the idea. Last November we lost my dear mother who made every occasion fun and every holiday meal memorable. For weeks the prospect of giving thanks […]
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Our Sweet Secret

One of the first things I asked my boyfriend when we started dating was, “What’s your favorite kind of candy?” A lifelong sweet tooth, I take my sugar consumption seriously.  When I moved to France, I knew there were changes I’d have to make, but sugar consumption wasn’t among my concerns.  According to the France.fr website, there are over 600 varieties of candy made in France – not to mention chocolates and sweet pastries.  What I hadn’t counted on, though, was the French attitude towards these treats.  In this thin-obsessed country, snacking on anything but fruit or yogurt is considered one of the worst things you could possibly do. My boyfriend had answered my question about candy, regaling me with descriptions of his favorites.  But as time went on, whenever I came home with a bag, or even just one or two pieces I’d picked out while buying a baguette at the boulangerie, he’d stare at me dubiously.  It’s sad to admit, but I started hiding the sweets […]
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Khun Yai, I Am a Lesbian

I came out to my parents at age seventeen. It took a few years of frustration and denial before they fully accepted the news. My being a lesbian eventually became a neutral fact, like how I won't eat papaya or that I must take medication. What’s important is that I know I am a daughter that they love and support. At age twenty-two, I visited Bangkok. On my last night I knew that I had to find the courage to tell my grandmother "Khun Yai" that I am a lesbian. I remembered being thrilled as a kid at the time spent with her talking and giggling after bedtime, and her weekly calls to the U.S. to comfort me after my mood disorder diagnosis. And the summers spent at her house, practicing my Thai and helping her survive the next nine months while I was in the States. Over the years her love for me had been tested. Sometimes she worried about me more than I ever worried about myself, but I was always grateful that she ultimately dealt with each challenge with grace and love. We had one […]
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A Few Cups Too Many

My boyfriend’s not much of a coffee fan.  He likes a good, hot mug every morning, but that’s it.  My family and childhood friends, on the other hand, are big coffee drinkers.  They’re from New Jersey and New York, where coffee is not only a means to wake up; it’s an essential socializing accessory.  After a few months together, I brought my boyfriend to meet them.  We spent a day visiting different people in their apartments, and every time, they offered us coffee.  My boyfriend was too polite to say no.  He even ended up having an extra mug when one of my friends was disappointed that the pot hadn’t been finished.  The day went well: my loved ones loved my boyfriend.  We started to walk back to the friend’s place we were staying at, and I can only imagine my boyfriend felt relieved.  That is until he suddenly started shaking and having heart palpitations. By the time we got back to my friend’s apartment, my boyfriend could barely breathe.  Terrified, we […]
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A Note on Love

Have you ever heard of National Love Note Day? Well, now you have. The world definitely needs more love letters and what better time to implement this idea to the most beautiful soul I know…my partner, my love, Raven. I had written her a letter in honor of this holiday; it turned out pretty well, in my opinion, and thought I would share with you: My Dearest Raven, From your child-like wonder, to your sense of adventure, to the sound of your laughter, makes my life more enriched, and makes my heart sing. One of my most favorite, sentimental memories of time spent with you illustrates all of those attributes.  It was about two years ago, I told you that I had a surprise for you, so I packed our bags, and without question from you, off to Orlando we went. After checking in at our delightful hotel that greeted us with chocolate chip cookies, we put our belongings away, and went out for a bite to eat.  After dinner, we were driving through the downtown Disney area, and you looked […]
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We lay, napping in the gentle breeze, in a blissful state of suspended animation. On the banks of a deserted lake in the wilds of Ontario, Canada, my husband and I had stolen a rare relaxation day. As the heat started to ebb, I suggested that we walk down a little trail in the woods and see where it took us.  It was barely a trail, just a narrow clearing through dense forest where deer or moose had foraged.  Cool in the shade of the trees, we held hands listening to the birdsong, the scrub crunching underfoot.  Suddenly, through the leaves, I spotted what looked like little dabs of pale color on one side of the trail. Curious, we ploughed through the brush to see what it might be. A bit scratched, we were confronted with one of the most glorious and totally unexpected sights we have ever witnessed. There, hidden from the sight of the world, wrapped in deep green foliage, lay a vision exactly like the impressionist artist Claude Monet’s breathtaking masterpiece ”Water […]
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Artistic Vision

We lay, napping in the gentle breeze, in a blissful state of suspended animation. On the banks of a deserted lake in the wilds of Ontario, Canada, my husband and I had stolen a rare relaxation day. As the heat started to ebb, I suggested that we walk down a little trail in the woods and see where it took us. It was barely a trail, just a narrow clearing through dense forest where deer or moose had foraged.  Cool in the shade of the trees, we held hands listening to the birdsong, the scrub crunching underfoot. Suddenly, through the leaves, I spotted what looked like little dabs of pale color on one side of the trail. Curious, we ploughed through the brush to see what it might be. A bit scratched, we were confronted with one of the most glorious and totally unexpected sights we have ever witnessed. There, hidden from the sight of the world, wrapped in deep green foliage, lay a vision exactly like the impressionist artist Claude Monet’s breathtaking masterpiece ”Water Lilies”. […]
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