Monday, November 30, 2015

our Thanksgiving table 2015 …tips on how I did this



Our Thanksgiving Table

I just got back into town late last night and I thought I’d take a moment to share some photos of our Thanksgiving table setting with you (this is for you Kim).

Hopefully you can use something from this post as possible inspiration for your own holiday tables.

As I mentioned before, this year my Mom wanted to use miniature white pumpkins for the place cards, but we soon discovered that white pumpkins of any size—were no where to be found in her area. We went everywhere before finally locating enough of some battered, discolored ones at a grocery store.

Even though my Mom was discouraged by the looks of them I knew that a can of white spray paint would fix all the imperfections.

Here’s a Before and After shot:



discolored, bruised pumpkins




a can of white spray paint

*even though I prefer the creamy color of a real pumpkin, once they were all sprayed they looked fine on the plates.





She had a pack of miniature orange pumpkins that she didn’t know what to do with and while we were shopping she found these gold tealights which we decided to use on her coffee station.

My Dad brought out his wood cutting set and we sat together and cut holes in the pumpkins for the candles. All you do is trace the outline of the candle onto to pumpkin and then cut inside the lines so the candles fit snug into the hole. You’ll need to scoop out the insides to fit the candles.





Remember all those old brass candlesticks we found at the thrifts stores?  Well, they added the perfect touch of gold to our tables.

We also got lucky and found all our glass vases at the same local Goodwill store too.

I think we paid less than five bucks for them all, so cheap and the perfect height too. I always prefer to use low sitting vases so we can keep the flowers on the tables while we eat.


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My parents don’t have a dining room so they move their furniture out and set up the tables and chairs in their living room. It goes to show you that you don’t need a big house to entertain. Every year Mom likes to rent the tables, chairs and linens from the same place where the owners know her.

This year we had white tablecloths and black napkins.

All the china, glassware, silverware and chargers belong to Mom.



The flowers couldn’t  have been simpler to arrange. Even though I had big plans to add a variety of red and orange hued flowers they were all picked over by the time we got to our favorite floral vendor. So roses it was.

We added the baby’s breath later for a filler.

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To avoid the hassle of cutting green foam I decided to use little plastic cups inside the white pumpkins and it worked fine. Although it bugged me that I could see the white rim. In a perfect world I would have loved to tuck green moss around the edges to hid that rim.



This year we did something different. I really wanted to emphasize our theme of gratitude, so at the last minute we decided to forgo the name tags and instead, we placed the word “Gratitude” at each setting. Then at dinner time we went around the table and asked everyone to say one thing they were grateful for….

Honestly, we weren’t sure how it would go, but it ended up being the best part of the whole night. Everyone ended up being surprisingly open and really thoughtful about what they said. It was one of those little risks that ended up adding so much to the dinner.




In the center of the table that’s a piece of white felt peeking out from the centerpiece. We did this to protect the linens from candle wax. It’s something to use if you’re renting linens (that charge for wax damage) or have a family heirloom on the table.



Before the candles were lit…





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the sign in my parent’s kitchen.


In case you’re wondering why we like to fix such a special table for Thanksgiving, it’s because we always celebrate my parent’s anniversary which is the following day.



This year marks their 56th year of marriage.



Whew, that’s a whole lot of blessings to be thankful for.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and thank you so much for stopping by,

I’m off to get unpacked and settled in again. One of these days I’m going to get caught up around here. I can’t believe Christmas is around the corner, I haven’t done one single thing for it yet.

peace and love to you,




I’m joining these friends today:

The Scoop

Inspire Me Tuesday


Monday, November 23, 2015

my thanksgiving table



I’m getting ready to head out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday. The wood floors got installed throughout our house and I’ve got boxes of stuff to put away, give away etc. But it all can wait.

Because it’s family time. I haven’t been able to get back home because of my yoga training commitment and I’m so happy to finally spend some quality time with my parents.

My mom loves doing a beautiful table and we have so much fun working on a ‘vision’ for it together. This past week we’ve been scouring the thrift stores for some good old brass candlesticks for this year’s theme.


I scored all these for under twenty bucks. Heavy too, and no shine.


Orange and deep red flowers. White tablecloths. Black napkins. And lots of gold—via the brass candlesticks down the center of the table.


white pumpkins with flowers

If we don’t use pomegranates for the place cards we’ll use white pumpkins filled with orange roses.


Probably lay some fresh greenery down the table with a few persimmons for color. Adding fruit or vegetables is an easy way to add color and texture. 

How about you, are you still looking for a few ideas for your own table?


White pumpkins grouped next to flowers make a simple yet lovely centerpiece.

DIY Chalkboard Chargers:


If I had more time I’d love to make these black chalk chargers with a personal message. Look HERE to see how easy these are to make.



Short on time?

Visit the vegetable section of your grocery store.



Last year we used lots of real leaves that we pressed.

And gold from a spray can---another easy possibly for maximum impact. You can also use the gold sprayed pinecones for your place cards. Then add some white candles and you’re all set.

Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how to incorporate flowers into real pumpkins here’s a great video of some ideas.

Let me know if you try any of these.



Whatever you decide, I do hope you’re able to slow down and enjoy the process. All the little moments. And of course, the craziness too. And I wish you a wonderful holiday surrounded by people you love.



with love and gratitude,




Tuesday, November 17, 2015

goodbye white floors



For the next four days we’ll be getting our new wood flooring throughout our entire house. 

My graduation happened on Sunday---(hooray-more on that later) and before I had time to come down from my emotional high, the installers started arriving to remove all the ugly old carpet and orange colored wood that has been here since we moved in.

I’m obviously delirious with excitement.

But it also means saying goodbye to my dreamy white floors which I’ve always been drawn to…oh how I love these images. So pretty and pristine.












Carrier-and-Company-Southampton.jpgmichele's blog




But honestly, not for us.

Not with our lifestyle. With my big dudes around here and my baby Stella with her black shedding fur. I just don’t want the extra upkeep.

Although I do plan to have white in my new entryway whenever that happens.

But there comes a point when we have to be realistic about our decorating preferences and our lifestyle right?



Here’s a Before photo of the living room.

I can’t wait to share an update on our fixer upper. Now that my yoga teacher training is complete I’ll be getting back to the house,  hope to have a little tour for you all. Show you some of our big changes.

And I’m SOOO excited to be back. Especially to reconnect with my dear blogger friends. Hopefully our computer won’t be disconnected for too long.





Wednesday, November 11, 2015

happiness and the most under-rated moment in our lives




Last night was The Big Night.

Last night at 7:30 p.m. our yoga studio was jam-packed with family and friends---mostly strangers that I had never met before—who had all been invited to our first ever “real” yoga class. The mats were lined up in rows and I had to be careful not to step on someone when I was walking to the front of the class. The room was full and steamy from all the bodies.

Both of my boys --Patrick and Michael--were there on their mats too, as my guests, one on each side of me. Even though they didn’t have much yoga experience. But there were A LOT of beginners there---husbands, moms and friends who had come to offer their love and support and be taught by us.

The twelve students in my Yoga Teacher Training Course.

The lights were lowered, the yoga music--a carefully composed hour of music with a slow-building momentum —was playing softly in the background.

And when the time came for me to get up to teach the part of the class I had been assigned—I did it.

My voice was strong.

And I felt good. God knows I had practiced this part so much I couldn’t practice anymore. I had been that paranoid about having a “blank” moment in front of everyone (amazing what fear of public humiliation will do, but hey, it worked).

 And I have to admit. It felt absolutely AMAZING.


I did it! After all my struggling, after all my self doubts, after feeling worried sick and so overwhelmed that I might never get through all the requirements for this 200 hour training course. Especially the teaching part.

Especially this one night standing in front of a class of strangers.

To be perfectly honest, only a few weeks ago I couldn’t even imagine being able to do this.

In fact, this might be what all my joy is really about on this morning after. While it’s true I’m ecstatic  that I was able to do a good job….

Do you know what’s most meaningful to me about it all?

It’s the fact that it happened after all my agonizing. Despite all my self-doubts.

You know.

I think this might be the most under-rated moment in our lives.

That moment when we pick ourselves up during a time of uncertainty and keep going…  

That one moment when we feel like throwing in the towel, but we don’t. We keep trudging forward, lugging all our tender feelings with us.

I’m wondering, why don’t we slow down and celebrate these moments more?

After all, these are the ones that really matter, those moments when we quietly choose NOT to give up our hope.

Because after it’s all over and we look back on our difficult times, these are the moments that define us. Those moments that forced us to reach a little deeper inside for a strength we didn’t know we had.

But we did.




 Today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • All 5 yoga teacher observations done.
  • All 40 required outside yoga classes done.
  • All weekly homework and essays done.
  • Anatomy essay done.
  • All 30 journal entries done.
  • Teaching to Family/Friends Real Yoga Class done.


I have this left : The final examination

and One Hour Long Teaching session to perform.



I’m almost there.


The teacher in Me acknowledges the Teacher in You,

peace and love to all my wonderful readers,

I am so grateful for you.




sharing with friends:

Wow Us Wednesdays

other posts on my Yoga Teacher Training:

My Big News

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

thoughts on being enough





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Thursday, November 5, 2015




stormy sea


Well …Week 7 of my Yoga Teacher Training has arrived.

And the truth is, I probably shouldn’t be taking the time to blog this.

I should be working on a short essay on the erector spinae muscles that’s due. Or studying for a quiz coming up on the Koshas, Doshas, Gunas, Chakras, Nadis, Prana and OM.

Or I could be rushing off to fit in one of my 4-5 required classes this week, or tackling my last class observation of another teacher and oh yeah, I really need to be memorizing and practicing my hour long teaching script consisting of Surya Namaskara A & B with a peak pose of Camel that needs to be taught in front of a real class.

But honestly, I need to write this.

I really need to tell the truth for no other reason than it’s real and it’s happening. And maybe ---just maybe---you might be able to relate.

Can you remember a time when you felt like you were barely holding on, when life felt like you were clutching to a jagged cliff with your raw fingertips?

A time when you felt tired. So tired of always feeling like no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t quite catch up. When normal activities like cooking and house cleaning fell to the wayside because you were trying to get through a challenging time?



The other night I stood up in front of our class and taught a  sequence of balancing yoga poses.

Everyone had been assigned a segment from the hour-long teaching script we will all eventually perform for our final exam.  But when I’d glimpsed the part my teacher had assigned me my heart sank. I literally felt sick. I had been memorizing like crazy—but never made it to this section of the script yet. Not only did I not have the body cues memorized for each of these poses, I couldn’t really do them particularly well. And I’d have to teach it in the following class.

Sigh. Once again I was feeling like I had play ‘catch-up.’

I took a deep breath. And kind, patient Elizabeth came over to show me the poses.

And then for the next 24 hours, my life was a blur of memorizing and rehearsing out loud and pasting pictures of the poses onto my script to jolt my memory.

Because the truth is, being the oldest one in my Yoga Training course ---and the least experienced with Yoga-- has been more difficult than I anticipated.

I don’t think it’s age-ism to acknowledge the differences I feel between myself and some of my twenty-something year old fellow students. Because no matter how young I might look or seem, my physical body is still fifty six years old—that’s reality. And yes, my back has been neglected for years. And yes, it gets stiff and sore; I can’t do more than four, maybe five (flow) classes a week without some real achiness.

So there are times inside the class when I feel self conscious. When I notice how much longer it takes to memorize and learn an entire new world, filled with Sankrit and poses and tons of body cues and teaching scripts and ancient yoga concepts and philosophy. There are times when teaching in front of my class feels overwhelming and stressful, a stark reminder of the fact I had less than six months of yoga under my belt when I came into Teacher Training.

Thank goodness for two fellow students—the owner of the studio and dear, sweet Alice---both in their early forties and sharing my similar struggle to memorize big chunks of material being hurled at us weekly.

Otherwise I would feel totally alone.

A feeling that is starting to take a toll on me.

So here’s the truth in a nutshell. Most of my fellow students have been practicing yoga for years. And when I look around my class it’s a fact that I am technically the most inexperienced.

So any reasonable observer might say, “Hey---no wonder you’re struggling to keep up.” Right?

Except that’s logic.

And feelings emerge from a deeper place; in fact, feelings can seem downright confusing and mysterious until we examine them more closely.

In Yoga this kind of turning inward and peeling away the layers is called Svadhyaya, which means self study.

And in my language of psychology, it’s about recognizing that when we’re experiencing unusually intense reactions to a situation or person--- it’s most likely because something from our past is being triggered.


In these last weeks I’ve found myself asking, “Why is this Yoga Teacher Certification Course feeling so damn stressful to me?

I mean, even I see the irony.

And I’ve realized the answer.  It’s not just the accelerated pace of the class. It’s the particular dynamics I feel when I’m inside this class that have been bringing up raw feelings from long ago.

Or in my case, feelings that surface in the form of an old memory tinted in soft gray like a Charlie Chaplin film, with slow jerky images moving without sound.

I close my eyes and I see it.


A little girl. The smallest in the class standing at a miniature table wearing a starchy blue apron that covers her dress. All around the table are classmates bent over  pieces of shiny white paper covering the table. The children are spreading thick, globs of rainbow colored paint over their paper and the little girl is painting too. But suddenly she stops and she looks up. She is watching the other children, the way their brushes swirl across the paper in bold sweeps, she sees how the bright colors turn muddy brown when you swirl them together and she sees how no one seems to care about this. She notices how lots of kids move their tongues over their lips when they spread their paint. And then suddenly, she feels it. The stinging hot water in her eyes and a hurt feeling in her chest. When she cries the pretty Kindergarten teacher with the stiff, yellow hair hugs her and asks her what’s wrong. But the little girl only sputters out a few words into her teacher’s soft, damp neck.

“My painting,” she cries. “Is not as good. It’s not as good as theirs.” .


changing your life narrative


We are all made of stories.  Rich, deep, complicated, dark, and shiny threads of life all woven together to move us forward on our journey toward wholeness.

Our growth happens when we can own all  of our experiences—the good and the painful-- and acknowledge when it’s time to let go.

This is the key. We must know our past without being bound by it.  

Those feelings I had at the Kindergarten paint table were a source of mystery and confusion for me for many years, a powerful memory that stayed with me because it became the lens that I saw the world from.

There was everyone else. And then there was Me. And without understanding why, I came to believe that there was something different about me. Something intangible about me that was inadequate.

Something I must hide. And so I came to believe that I had to work harder than the next person just to keep up. Just to make my ‘painting’ as good as the next person’s.

It made me sad to think that I could be so filled with self doubt and shame at such a tender age, although at the time I had no words for those feelings. In fact, I didn’t learn until I was a graduate student in a Counseling Department what these feelings were about; I didn’t realize how unresolved feelings can get passed down through generations.


Because I learned that the sensation of shame so long ago was not mine, but rather it belonged to my mother’s story. I didn’t know for a long time that my beautiful, young mother endured a shame-filled nine months when she became pregnant with me as a teenager. That she was ignored and shamed by her own father, shunned by my father’s family and forbidden to see my father until he was old enough to marry her. I heard much later about her feeling of aloneness and heartbreak during her pregnancy with me.  

But this was a secret for a long time.

I couldn’t understand –until years later—that her overprotection and clinging to me had nothing to do with any deficiencies in me. This was simply my mother’s version of love, the best love a young, undeveloped girl/woman could offer her first born.

But children can’t know the back story being lived by adults, they only sense the emotions. They sense the secrets. And they assume it must be something about them.

As a therapist I eventually came to love discovering the important clues contained in family stories and in our innermost feelings because these are puzzle pieces for understanding our later struggles..within ourselves and with others. We all have layers that can be peeled away to expose our tender, authentic selves.

The question becomes about our willingness to risk discomfort to move past old, outdated ways of seeing ourselves.

For a long time I felt painfully “different.”

But these same feelings also fueled my independence and rebellion from a family that was deeply loving, but culturally sexist in their views. These feelings of differentness were the same ones that propelled me forward through college, and grad school and into the field of therapy. From an extended family that had never gone to college yet.

But not without a whole lot of tears and therapy and risk-taking along the way.



So how do you shed your old-outdated-identity? How do you begin to change your life story in a direction that better reflects who you are today?

Here’s the answer.

  • You do it with action. You do it with your behaviors.
  • You acknowledge your fears, yes.…but then you keep going. You act “as-if” you are that person you want to be…and you keep moving.
  • You face the discomfort and you step into it.

I wish I could tell you an easier way.

And I wish I could tell you that those original achy feelings go away forever, but the truth is that in times of stress, or when we find ourselves in those old dynamics again,  remnants of those tender feelings may pop up again.

Like me and this damn class right now. When I look around the class and notice that everyone is younger, and seems to be ‘getting it’ so much easier than me. At least that’s the little girl kindergarten feeling.

Ok. So here’s what happened the other evening when I had to teach my portion of the class. 

I was supposed to add a few words about the Fourth Chakra, otherwise known as the Heart Center, our source of love and compassion.

So during the portion of my script when everyone was resting in their Half Pigeon Pose, I stood in front of the room and composed these words:

Which happened to be words I needed to hear myself.

(I hope you do too)


Everything you’ve experienced in your Life so far

has brought you to this place.

You are here

because you followed your Heart Center.

Without even knowing what lies ahead.

But you know that when you peel away the layers

you GLIMPSE the essence of Who You Are.

And you are Not your Past.

You are Not your Fears

You are Not your Flaws

You are Not your Worries.


Are Enough.

Right now.

You are Courageous.


are Love.




This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever looked across a crowded room and

wondered, “Am I the only one who feels this way?”

Please know…. that you are not.



from your humble friend,



my other yoga posts:

my Big News

have you ever felt like an imposter?

thoughts on being enough





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