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Welcome to Mirth and Motivation!

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Photo Challenge: ATOP


“Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.” Edmund Hillary

Photo Challenge: ATOP

Photo Challenge: ATOP

Photo Challenge: ATOP - Super tall buildings and locations mentioned in the post.

Photo Challenge: ATOP – Super tall buildings and locations mentioned in the post.

Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
At the bottom of the mountain you have your scoffers and doubters, by midpoint you have your envious and haters, and when you reach to the top you have new friends and family you never met or thought existed. Anthony Liccione

Even though I’m scared of heights, I get a thrill from going to the top of historic buildings, looking down, and taking a few photos to help me overcome my fear of heights. Of course, every time I get to the top and I look out a window or over a barrier,  I wonder what made me agree to go up. So, over the years, I’ve been to the top of some amazing buildings from the Tokyo Tower, Eiffel Tower, WTC and 7World Trade Center, GE Building, Space Needle, Olympiaturm, Neuschwanstein Castle, Empire State building and many, many more. For this photo challenge, I pulled together a few of the photos I’ve taken atop a building or even on a plane descending to an airport. Hope you enjoy them.


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Motivation Mondays: NURTURE


“If you nurture your mind, body, and spirit, your time will expand. You will gain a new perspective that will allow you to accomplish much more.” Brian Koslow

Motivation Mondays: NURTURE - We all need it

Motivation Mondays: NURTURE – We all need it

My hope is that we continue to nurture the places that we love, but that we also look outside our immediate worlds. Annie Leibovitz
My husband and I believe that if you treat a child well and nurture his talent and physical ability, in a healthy environment, the child will succeed no matter what. Dominique Moceanu
I believe there is a spirit within us, which we nurture based upon our efforts and what we bring to the world. But it doesn’t come from the outside; it comes from the inside. Michael Douglas

Did you know that in March we celebrate Women’s History Month? We also celebrate National Nutrition Month, World Wildlife and Water Day, a Day of Happiness, Holi, and so much more. With all the events and special commemorations going on this month, we can’t help but stop to think about nurturing;  be it self nurture, nurturing of others, or observing the many ways care, encouragement, and nurturing occur in nature and in all the lifeforms around us.  As we hit the first quarter of 2017, it’s time to ask ourselves some tough questions. Where are we in terms of  the goals we set for the year? How are we feeling about our lives overall? Even if we choose to not set aside the debate on nature vs nurture and what we are instinctively inclined to do as humans, what stands out is that we all need some nurturing to refuel our minds and bodies. The best part of this conversation is that it is never too late to start a wellness/self-care strategy for ourselves.

Part of building a meaningful, successful life includes creating a healthy balance between our needs and the needs of others. Each of us needs time for reflection and rest. When we drive ourselves nonstop, running helter-skelter, chasing one dream after another, sooner or later, we will reach the precipice of our existence and fall right over the edge. Nurturing our lives and choosing healthy options allows us to make better choices and give more quality time to others. Some people view self-care as self indulgent and even selfish but that attitude is dangerous. If we don’t give ourselves space and time to replenish and refuel our bodies, mind, and spirit, we set ourselves up for feelings of resentment and burnout. Don’t wait for others to give you permission to care for yourself. Seize it with both hands and trust that the good you do for yourself will benefit others you meet along the way.

A Story: Clear the Mist In Your Mind & Heart
One day, a man beheld through the opening of a cloud, the calm face of the mountain. He stopped every passer-by, that would stay to give an answer, and inquired of the way that would lead him beyond the mists. Some said take this path, and others said take that path. After many days of confusion and toil, he
arrived among the hills.
A man, full in years, wise in the ways of the hills, said, “I know the way. You cannot reach the mountain, O friend, unless you are strengthened by the power that comes from the adoration of the image in yonder shrine.”
Many days passed in peaceful worship. Tired of worship, he asked of men that seemed great with understanding. “Yea,” said one, “I know the way. But if you would gain the fulfillment of your desire, carry this on you. It will uphold you in your weariness.” He gave him the symbol of his struggle.
Another cried, “Yea, I know the way. But many days of contemplation must be passed in the seclusion of a sanctuary, with my picture of eternity.”
“I know the way,” said another, “But you must perform these rites, understand these hidden laws, you must enter the association of the elect and hold fast to the knowledge that we shall give you.”
“Be loud in the song of praise of the reflection that you seek,” said another.
“Come, follow me, obeying all things I say. I know the way,” cried another.
Eventually, the calm face of the mountain was utterly forgotten. Now he wanders from hill to hill, crying aloud, “Yes, I know the way, but…”
There is a mountain, far beyond the plains and hills, whose great summit overlooks the dark valley and the open seas. Neither cloud nor deep mists ever hide its calm face. It is above the shadows of day and night. From the vast plain, no man can behold it. Some have seen it but there be few that have reached its feet.
One in many thousand years gathers his strength and gains that abode of eternity.
I speak of that mountain top, serene, infinite, beyond thought.
I shout for joy! By J. Krishnamurti via Zenstories


“I think as a woman it’s in our nature to nurture someone else. Sometimes at the expense of ourselves.” Emilia Clarke

Motivation Mondays: NURTURE - We all need it

Motivation Mondays: NURTURE – We all need it

I believe you have to nurture your conscience. Loretta Young
I don’t pretend there aren’t biological differences, but I don’t believe the desire for leadership is hardwired biology, not the desire to win or excel. I believe that it’s socialization, that we’re socializing our daughters to nurture and our boys to lead. Sheryl Sandberg
My purpose is to teach and demonstrate what is possible. To demonstrate love of Creation and good. Remember what my role is as a woman: to be… good. My role as a mother: to teach, support and nurture my offspring. My role as a grandmother: to remind everybody – right where you are, Creator is. Iyanla Vanzant

How Do YOU Nurture Yourself? It’s not uncommon to read about Moms and caregivers who. like martyrs, give up any semblance of self care because they give their all to their families. Is it healthy? Is it wise? No, it is not. Love your family. Care for them but, also take care of yourself. Being a martyr means you are leaving nothing in your tank for your own care and an early demise might be your reward.  I am often reminded of what happens when the gas masks drop down on a plane. The advice to parents on board is to put them on first and then help their children with theirs. It is not a callous act because what good are we to our loved ones if we are spent and have no oxygen left in our tanks? We give our best help to loved ones and others when we are well rested and nurtured. If we invest some of our time in self-care activities, exercise, good nutrition, healthy habits, and meaningful friendships, we will bring a full tank to every interaction we have with our friends and family.

For me, self-care begins with nutrition, exercise, and spending quality time with people who lift me up. My spiritual life is equally important because it nurtures my spirit and my creative endeavors. Exploring new ways to grow and learn is a great way to keep us balanced.  If we make a commitment to try something new and healthy each month, we’d be pleased when, months later, we find out that we have grown in so many new and dynamic ways. Another great way to nurture self is by using a spa day to help us rejuvenate our bodies in a soothing, beneficial way. Do these cost a ton of money? They don’t have to at all. We can comparison shop for some activities and  can always DIY at home.  I find that even a trip to the movies, getting a Mani-pedi or taking a hike in a nearby nature walk can help us shift some of the daily signs of stress we experience.  How does self-care begin for you? Carpe diem!


The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for January and February 2017 are:

02/6 –    Black History Month, 6, Lame Duck Day, 12, Lincoln’s Birthday
02/13 – 14, Valentine’s Day, 15, Constitution Day,
02/20 – 20, Presidents’ Day, Washington’s Birthday, 24, Carnival/Flag Day, 26, New Moon
02/27 – 27, Clean Monday, 28, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday,


03/ – March is Women’s History Month, National Nutrition Month, American Red Cross Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, 03/01 – Ash Wednesday and Zero Discrimination Day, 03/03, World Wildlife Day
03/06 – 08, International Women’s Day 09, World Kidney Day
03/13 –  12, Purim starts and Daylight Savings Day, 13, Holi, 14, Pi Day, 17, Saint Patrick’s Day
03/20 – 20, International Day of Happiness, 21, World Poetry Day, 22, World Water Day 23 Puppy Day, 24, TB Day
03/27 – 27, Doctors Day


Are You Looking for Ways to Stay Creative in 2017?

– Join the Daily Post Post-a-day or Post-a-week Challenge.


— Join the BlogHer Writing Lab



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Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha


“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” Tecumseh

Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha

Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha


Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha

Food Files: Fried Ripe Plantains & Roasted Kabocha

What is a Plantain? It is a member of the banana cultivar and while we classify it as a fruit, it is often eaten like a vegetable. The texture of a plantain is sticky and starchy and it can be prepared when it is green, yellow or dark brown. Some folks like to wait till the skin is black and the fruit is mushy before they eat it but, to me, that is the same as eating rotted food. So no thank you!  Often, when people think of ripe fried plantains, they imagine they are/taste like fried bananas. They are not and they don’t; real plantains have a different texture and size and can be prepared in many ways.  Whenever I look at fried plantains on the internet, I wonder why some look so nasty and soggy. Some folks think they are typically soggy, greasy and unattractive when fried and they don’t have to be. To enjoy sweet fried plantains, it is best to use firm, yellow plantains or mustard yellow ones with a tinge of brown.

Once a plantain ripens to a shade of yellow, it sweetens and can be enjoyed roasted, fried or boiled and  you can get creative with your dish. To enjoy this popular dish, loved by kids in African, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian countries, I prefer it in a purist fashion so the flavor isn’t overwhelmed by sweeteners and heavy seasonings. The key is to pick your plantains ripe and firm not mushy.  When I shop for plantains, I never buy blackened ones. Why? Because those are overly ripe and on their way out.  I buy the yellow and mustard colored plantains and put them in the fridge to retard the ripening process.  That way, when I fry them up, they are sweet, firm and aesthetically appealing to the eyes …. and definitely NOT greasy. Follow the simple recipe below:


Recipe: Fried Ripe Plantains

1-2 large yellow/mustard yellow plantains
Large plate spread with paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
You can also use a sieve and place it on the plate to catch any oil dripping.

1/4 tsp finely ground salt
1/4 cup oil – Groundnut oil, Corn oil, Canola/Argan oil are best

To peel the plantains, cut the ends off and make an incision lengthwise on the plantain with a sharp knife. Peel the skin off. Holding the fruit firmly in one hand or resting on a chopping board, slice the plantain into 1 inch slanted (see above) or round pieces. Place the sliced pieces in a mixing bowl and sprinkle them with salt. Make sure the salt is spread evenly  and mix by hand or with a spoon as needed. Set the bowl aside.
In a large frying pan, add the oil, set the stove temperature at medium heat and wait for the oil to warm up a little. Test the oil with a drop of water to see if it sizzles; make sure it is warm NOT hot. Add the plantain slices and fry each side, turning them over with a fork when they are golden brown. Turn the heat to low or off and Scoop them out as soon as they turn golden brown. Place the plantains on the paper towel on a large plate or in a sieve to absorb any extra oil, and serve hot as a side dish with rice and beans and a tomato based sauce, with any other entree, as a complement to an omelette or simply enjoy them on their own. Two large plantains can serve 4.

Roasted Kabocha Recipe below!

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