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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Now Motivated: My Gift to You: Christmas Travels N Thoughts

Now Motivated: My Gift to You: Christmas Travels N Thoughts: It's Christmastime, a time for cheer, celebration and reflection. This piece is my gift to you and I hope you will find it entertaining. It ...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Now Motivated: My Gift to You: Christmas Travels N Thoughts

Now Motivated: My Gift to You: Christmas Travels N Thoughts: It's Christmastime, a time for cheer, celebration and reflection. This piece is my gift to you and I hope you will find it entertaining. It ...

My Gift to You: Christmas Travels N Thoughts

It's Christmastime, a time for cheer, celebration and reflection. This piece is my gift to you and I hope you will find it entertaining. It is a brief journal of my recent travels to the great cities of Philadelphia and New York during Christmastime. All delivered to you in time for Christmas Eve.

I consider myself a Philadelphian and always will as I was born and raised there. However, when I lived there I enjoyed very little of what this great city had to offer and I venture to say probably many of the people who live and work there also do not fully take advantage of all of it's culture and charm.

My fiance Randy and I went there to visit this great city as we do every year. Our favorite place to visit is without question Olde City which is famed for the signing of the signing Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. How many of you know that Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States?

 We toured Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the Christ Church, Fireman's Hall, the Betsy Ross House, the Edgar Allan Poe home, Elfreth's Alley, Todd House, Bishop White House and all on foot! If you can stand the weather you can literally walk the entire city, provided that you take occasional breaks.  There are bus tours that take you through Olde City and then up the Benjamin Parkway past the museums and through to Fairmont Park. There's also the Ride the Duck amphibious bus tour that travels on the street and then on the Delaware River.  And then there are horse and buggy tours that stay strictly in the Olde City.

This year we went on a National Park Service Tour of the homes lived in by Dollie Todd on 4th and Walnut which showed the life of a typical middle class family. Dollie Todd, after her husband John died, later married again and became First Lady Dolly Madison. We then toured the Bishop White House right down the street which is an upper class home and was contrasted by the tour guide with the Todd home. Both homes were decorated with a little touch of Christmas, a little holly here and there and Christmas trees fitting for the respective home.

We went on a Christmas House tour of the Fairmont Park Houses. Here there are a group of seven preserved eigthteenth- and early nineteenth-century historic houses which were established as summer retreats for prominent families of the city. The tour included a guided tour of three of the homes. They were decorated for Christmas and at the end of the tour a recipe card was provided for a dessert of the time. Tonight we're going to have the kids make sugarplums! They aren't on the diet but we'll manage even so.

Some fellow Philadelphians might remember the old department store John Wanamaker's at Broad and City Hall and the famous Christmas holiday tradition. Macy's took over the facility years ago and has continued this long-standing Philadelphian tradition.

At 16th and JFK there is the Christmas Village which is opened until Christmas Day. The Village contains small store huts filled with many treasures imported from Germany. Last year I bought the most adorable ornamental birds that can be clipped on the tree. Even though I told myself that my Christmas shopping was done, it evidently wasn't because I kept buying more gifts. I just can't stop myself. There was free entertainment and they had German foods for purchase such as German Sausages and potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce available. And the most delicious wassail or 'mulled wine' I ever tasted! For $7 you get a a nice ceramic mug with the Christmas Village in Philadelphia logo and you can use the mug for refills for $5. I got 3 mugs this year and 3 last year so I have a set of six now. Only this year's mugs were different in size. They were made larger to hold two more ounces of wine!

For you wine lovers interested in mulled wine it's easy to make and will scent your house with Christmas cheer. Simply empty a bottle of red wine in a pot, add Cinnamon stick, cloves and a few orange peels. Warm until boil but do not bring the pot to a complete boil. It's recommended that you use wine from inferior grapes such as Pinot Noir as opposed a more expensive grape like Cabernet. Try it you might like it!
Now for the South Philadelphia in you (as is most definitely in me) the trip wouldn't be complete without a walk down the Italian Market on 9th Street. You know it, Rocky ran down the street when he was training for the big fight. Our experience was made unique when my body building fiance was approached by a local. Randy was told by the local that he was someone who he'd like on "his team" which from the looks of him and his reference to "enforcer" we might assume what he meant by "team".

We later ate at local South Philly Italian restaurants and were impressed with the fact that the old Nick's Roast Beef was holding it's own and still strong on 20th and Jackson.
 'Somebody' certainly enjoyed their roast beef combo and gravy fries! The combo is a delicious moist roast beef sandwich with provolone cheese on a kaiser roll. This paired with some Italian beer and french fries smothering with the roast beer gravy drippings made the meal complete. Delish!!

The next day it was time to get our rental car, take our stuffed up stomachs and make our way out to New York, New York, my very favorite city in the whole wide world. I will always consider myself a Philadelphian, however, I will always be a wannabe New Yorker. Although I can't claim to be a native New Yorker I did have the honor of working there for three years and subsequently shopped for my work suits and Christmas gifts numerous times throughout the years that followed. I can assuredly state that New York is without any possible challenge the best city in the world, at least to me!

We stayed with a lifelong friend and her family in Staten Island overnight. On our first day into the city we took a train and then the Staton Island ferry. We enjoyed seeing the views of the Statue of Liberty and the city's scapes from the boat but did not enjoy being in the crush of people getting on and off the boat. The ferry dropped us off in downtown Manhattan which I'm most familiar with. We walked through the financial district and although it was too early (9 am) to stop in we peeked through the windows of my favorite restaurant Delmonico's.
We walked up Wall Street
and then we got visitors passes to finally see, after ten years of waiting ....

the 9/11 Memorial. I can't take up enough space to fully express my feelings about this memorial. But I will say that I spent more than a few minutes deeply reflecting upon the lives that were lost, the rescue workers, the victims who worked in the WTC area that day and who worked near the other attack sites and who were passengers on the planes on that fateful day. As I felt the water mist from the pools against my face, I felt a grave sense of gratitude for those first responders who minimized the impact of those attacks. The tears fell hot on my cheeks as I looked up at some 88 floors which were completed on the Freedom Tower. I felt incredibly lucky to be part of the human spirit that can pick up after a disaster like that and re-build again... this Christmas I pray for the victims and rescue workers' families that were left behind and hope that the memorial brings them some closure and some peace. I think New York rebounded and couldn't have done a better job with the site. I look forward to seeing the future progress and going in the museum that is being built on the grounds.

On Day 2 we took a bus into Manhattan from Staton Island. It took quite a while (1.5 hrs in and 2.5 hrs back) but it was a comfortable ride and quite scenic going into the city. You heard of those iconic spots like Times Square, Rockerfeller Center, 5th Avenue and the like. So many people thronging the streets. It was exciting! We first got off at 41st and 6th Ave. and visited Bryant Park. They have their own tree and a free skating rink!

Can you see me?

We enjoyed a couple of beverages and walked through the small glass shops which sold jewelry, arts and crafts and once again I found myself buying more Christmas gifts.
We then walked up 5th avenue and were in search of a lunch spot. We stopped at Kallari Taverna on West 44th street which was a Greek restaurant. We ate at the bar and there the bartender took great care of us. Before we could even order a drink he offered a huge bowl of olives and then a plate of hummus, radishes and hot pita bread fresh from the oven.  We ordered drinks and Greek chicken lemon soup and small salads. The bartender graciously offered a free glass of dessert wine when we were through eating.  Then we continued our journey on 5th Ave. stopping off to gaze at the at amazing  store windows.

Can you see me above?

Sorry that's not me, I wish it were. We saw the beautiful store windows of Cartier, Saks Fifth Ave,  Harry Winston, Berdoff Goodman and Tiffany's. Many of the display windows this year had elaborate moving gift boxes that would open and reveal the merchants selected treasured. Some windows had moving manequins helping to display the treasures for sale.

Finally we arrived at our destination: The Plaza Hotel for our afternoon tea which was still being served at the original Palm Court. As requested we were seated near the piano player and as we sipped our tea and ate finger sandwiches we watching the people go by in the hallway next to us. The original Plaza Hotel was bought out by investors who converted it into partial condominiums and retained a part of the facility as a five star hotel.  Enough of the original architecture and fixtures were maintained to make it still feel like 'The Plaza'. However the Oak Room was still closed for renovations. We wanted to have a drink at the Champagne Bar or the Rose Club but there was an event going on. People were arriving in limos dressed in gowns and furs. We were finished with our trip by then and made our 6:30 pm bus back to Staton Island so we could continue our journey back to Philly.

I hope you liked my little Christmas Journey. Soon the holidays will be over and we may begin to implement the New Years goals we set. My goal last year was to get my novel  Having Fun with Mr Wrong published. Little did I know that unless I wanted to invest some bucks to self-publish it I had quite a bumpy road ahead of me. The book is currently on it's forth re-write as is the way of a novelist. On a positive note I have completed my first year retired from the corporate world and have officially embarked on a writing journey that I've dreamed of taking every since I was six years old.

In conclusion, I would like to wish each and everyone of you, my fellow writer friends, tweeters and facebook family and friends to have a blessed holiday and a New Year in which you pursue your dreams! I now know the many struggles of an emerging writer and while writing and critiques groups are helpful and necessary for any serious writer, it can lead one to shy away from the pen all together. That won't be me and I hope it won't discourage you!  I hope each of you will pursue each of your dreams. Keep it alive in 2012!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Now Motivated: Is Your Christmas Tree up Yet?

Now Motivated: Is Your Christmas Tree up Yet?: Hello there! I am happy to announce that I have completed my masterpiece: my ten foot Christmas tree is up and fully decorated. On it are ab...

Is Your Christmas Tree up Yet?

Hello there! I am happy to announce that I have completed my masterpiece: my ten foot Christmas tree is up and fully decorated. On it are about twelve strands of lights, twinkling, the new fangled LED lights, chasers and fading lights which change from color to white lights. The ornaments are those that I've accumulated from all of my previous residences, gifts from family members, friends, office mates, previous relationships and my fiance's old house. AHHH, I'm finally done. I'm still puzzled why I can't get anyone to help me put it up.

The reason why I think no one is enthused about putting the tree up in my house is probably because they are not yet in the Christmas Spirit. But if you're a Christmas buff you, like me, you can't wait for the Christmas music to come on the local radio channels and satellite or cable radio. Once it comes on I play it continuously in my house until they cut it off.

During Christmastime I often revel in the cheer and the good mood everyone seems to be in. I especially love preparing gifts for those I love! It's a great time to pull out the old books like Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". I particularly love any old novels I can find that have short stories of the Christmas's of past.

However, it's also a time to reflect on our blessings and the true meaning of Christmas. What does it mean to you? To me its a celebration of the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe should all look beyond the tinsel, lights and red and green ribbons that adorn our homes. Let's give serious thought to the true meaning of Christmas.
Each year we leave the holiday with the good intentions to carry out the spirit throughout the year but how many of us truly do that? How often do we quickly forget the spirit right after the first failed attempt to lose that holiday weight gain after the new year?
These are just a few thoughts and I'm sure there will be many more that come in and out of my mind throughout the season. May you and your have a wholesome, safe and wonderful time this holiday season. And get that tree up!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Now Motivated: Tit 4 Tat

Now Motivated: Tit 4 Tat: People should be supportive on one an others dreams despite personal insecurity, self-doubt or some other 'hidden agenda'. Because I truly ...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Now Motivated: Carnies are a Rip-off - or was it the Jager?

Now Motivated: Carnies are a Rip-off - or was it the Jager?: Was it the Jagermeister? I'm not sure, so I gathered my brains this morning and pulled out the Palm Beach Post TGIF section and sure enough ...

Carnies are a Rip-off - or was it the Jager?

Was it the Jagermeister? I'm not sure, so I gathered my brains this morning and pulled out the Palm Beach Post TGIF section and sure enough it said that the Hellzapoppin sideshow revue show at Fright Nights admission was free with the Fright Nights admission. Granted, the official website did not advertise that there was a side show available. So the sideshow was actually an added bonus. But there was an additional admission fee, $5 per person. So how the hell did we spend $180 in addition to $75 on admissions for five people? I'll answer that: it must have been the Jagermeister.

The Palm Beach Post reported that the side show had freaks and geeks like a lizard man, a man/iguana man, a one-armed burlesque dancer and a wolf boy - none of which were actually part of the show. Although their likeness was painted on the side of the tent.

Now I'll tell you the acts that were actually part of the show and I'll add that the show was indeed worth every bit of the $5 extra that was charged. I still don't know about where the $180 went, but we'll let that slide. There was a knife swallower who then swallowed a larger than the knife piece of wood. The emcee swallowed a condom- wrapped pocket knife and then pulled it through his nose.  Although, I feel, we could have done without the explicit opening of a condom from it's wrapper in front of little kids. He also took two corn kernels, put them up his nose and squeezed them out through his tear ducts. There was very hungry flame eater, a glass eating act, glass walking and jumping on a pile of glass act, a climbing several rungs of sharp edged knife ladder act and oh yeah can't forget the climatic knife blade box act. All of the performers were fairly fit and decorated with many tattoos, facial and body piercing, ya know, that goes with the territory.

I was overcome by the desire to research the underbelly of the carnival act (as I have in the past) and visit where they live when they aren't on the circuit, if they even have a permanent residence. Also to visit their living quarters while they travel. I frequently wonder what they do for entertainment and relaxation when they aren't performing. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't heavy drinking and drugging involved, actually. I think they are likely artists of their own ilk and kind and deserve to be flushed out in the form of a novel or at least a chapter in my novel.

I believe that my very own Margo Spamozzi will be following a carnival because of her lust for the overall experience. There's a dark side in all of us. For Margo, it's part of her being fickle. You'll have to stay posted for that one.

Anyway if you're interested in seeing Hellzapoppin sometime they are reported by the Post to have appeared on National Geographic and the History Channels, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and now the subject a a new reality TV show - check them out if you dare!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


What does Halloween mean to you? And what will you be doing?

To me, besides it being just another holiday and a precursor to the Holiday season, Halloween is a fun time to be someone or something you're normally not. In costume we often can act out our fantasies, palyact a role we can't on a day-to-day basis or just be silly. This year I bought three wigs to wear on three different nights I braved the haunted houses at Busch Gardens Halloscream. Other then a few curious looks and compliments given by the security guards all I got out of it was an itchy head!

If you have kids Halloween probabaly has an altogether different definition. Like that you have to pick out a costume that isn't too expensive but cool enough so you're kid will fit in with the latest fad and their friends. Perhaps you'll walk your little ones around your neighborhood or someone else's (that's has better candy) on Halloween night. Then you'll go throught the bags of candies at the end of the night to make sure nothing "bad" is in there.

For those who don't have kids perhaps you'll attend a Halloween party where you can act out your own party rage and then, like the joke I heard about a needed Jaggermeister warning, you wonder to yourself' the next day while nursing a hangover "What the hell was I thinking?"
Or maybe you'll have a great date with a hot guy (or girl) that night, go to a random party and wake up the next day thinking about your date or looking at your date in the morning and saying to yourself "What the hell was I thinking?".
Who knows?

As for myself, I'd like to say that I'm going to read a few Edgar Allen Poe scary stories around a campfire to the kids but I doubt I will. Or that they'll want to hear them. I have no idea what I'll do Halloween night or what it means to me this year. I guess it is just another day before the Holiday Season, that's what.

Now Motivated: Tit 4 Tat

Now Motivated: Tit 4 Tat: People should be supportive on one an others dreams despite personal insecurity, self-doubt or some other 'hidden agenda'. Because I truly ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tit 4 Tat

People should be supportive on one an others dreams despite personal insecurity, self-doubt or some other 'hidden agenda'. Because I truly believe that the reason why we might, at least one some conscious level, be envious when someone close to us, or someone that is a colleague or just a random famous person gets ahead because it stirs up a fear inside us. The fear that we don't deserve or we can't have our own personal dreams achieved!
I believe there is total abundance in the world, in fact, enough abundance that there is enough for each and every one of us. As paraphrased from the book called "The Secret" not everyone wants we specifically want. 

We can have, once we conquer our own self-doubt or fears, whatever it is that we desire. We can have once we have a clear definition of what we want.
The very definition of getting what we want is knowing what we want. We need to know very clearly and very specifically so that we can generate the positive energy toward us to manifest that dream.
Hope your dream comes true!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Now Motivated: Listen to the internal voice

Now Motivated: Listen to the internal voice: We should listen to our internal voice, our intuition despite the loud opinions of others. Live our own lives; we shouldn't get caught up by...

Listen to the internal voice

We should listen to our internal voice, our intuition despite the loud opinions of others. Live our own lives; we shouldn't get caught up by the dogma, the wants of others, the expectations that others have for us. Because it is OUR life, after all and our lives will eventually end. Therefore our time is limited.

The above paragraph is paraphrased from the now infamous words of Steve Jobs at his Stanford University commemorative address.

I am currently struggling and have been for over a year and half with this very theme: other's opinions of what I should be doing for a living. It's interesting but these "others" don't pay my bills, or help to take care of my home, or deal with the daily issues that come up in my life. It's puzzling than, also, why I allow these others opinions have such a profound effect on me.

Well, they shouldn't have that much affect on me. Nor should anyone else allow the other's opinions to change the direction they know they need to go in! I wanted to be a writer my entire life and I wrote, avidly in my journals... now I intend to write for a living. There are many of us who wish to do the same. Yet we face this immense difficulty getting our words out in publishable print. And from what I gather, so far, that difficulty is caused by the opinions of others.

Like Jobs, if you believe in your product, despite all of the criticism and doomsayers, you've got to stick by it. And my message today to you is to encourage you as I encourage myself, to stick by your product - whatever it is. After all look how far that attitude got Jobs in his iconic and illustrious career.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not to Waste Time

I had another installment of my recurring nightmare last night. Well, the term nightmare might be an exaggeration, perhaps we can call it an annoy mare. One that can set your day in the wrong direction, only I didn't allow it to today!

The dream is about me going back to the mortgage industry, one is which I had an illustrious career of sixteen years all with the same Bank that went ca put along with the collapse of the housing market. In reality I knew it was over but despite what my intuition was telling me, I stayed in the field for two more years working with other outfits and experienced a tremendous amount of negativity and rejection. The role of a loan officer in today's economy was completely redefined and it wasn't pretty.

In reality I had planned to retire before the collapse hit - call it burnout. Regardless, on some level of my consciousness I couldn't accept that it was over for me until the reality that it was over slapped me in the face - literally.
I woke up, smelled the coffee that was life and quit.

Last night in my writer's chat room a comment was brought up that quiting is admitting to failure. I disagree. Leaving a profession is difficult for anyone but knowing when to leave is actually a success, in a sense.

Back to the dream. In the recurring dream I continue to re-enter my former profession with renewed vigor and earnest effort only to have it extinguished by the manager, client, customer or whoever it is in the dream. I guess that's the reason for the dream's re occurrence: on some mental levels I have not accepted the decision I made to leave the profession.

But I think the primary message in the dream is that I'm really uncertain about the profession I have now chosen to be in and that is writing.  So I'm now to face a whole new world of rejection and difficulty in the profession of writing. That perceived rejection is really the subject of today's posting.

It is accepted and often stated in the writing community that one can not expect to make a living or much of one from writing.

My response to this is: bull! Is there ever a day that goes by when you don't read something in print: a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, an on line article, product instructions or - yes by golly - a book? People write. People get paid to write. AND people should believe their writing is worthy of being paid!

Expect to be paid and you will!!

That's my shtick and I'm sticking to it!
 Ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm now motivated

I'm now motivated to reach out into the world and 'show' what I think. Why not? Maybe we can all be motivated once we find someone else out there who thinks like us or who shares our emotions, thoughts, feelings, fears...isn't that what we as humans crave? A feeling of oneness yet also separateness?

Have you ever been motivated by fear? Like when you get in your car in the morning even though you don't want to go to that boring business meeting but you know if you don't show up you'll catch flake from the boss.

Or what about that gnawing feeling you get because you haven't yet reconciled that statement or make that call to the vendor/doctor/prospect. Why don't we just do it? We need the answer and we know we'll never get it until we do it.

Then why are we held back from taking action?

This blog will explore the ways in which I myself get myself motivated to do a task at hand or a task that has been put off. Like, for example, creating this blog.

Hope it inspired YOU to GET MOTIVATED TOO!