Tag Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Art is the highest expression of our pursuit…

Day four: Clean eating re-centers focus

On a beautiful fall day we sat across the table from our daughter and her significant other and talked about exciting plans. Conversation was lively, the company excellent, the views outside the restaurant were gorgeous, The Bride looked lovely, our daughter was happy and all I could think about was the bread in the basket just across the table.

Turns out, I found out later, The Bride was right there with me.

“I wanted to snatch it from them with a huge slab of butter,” she said.

But we didn’t. We let it sit there. Two pieces, untouched, sitting in the basket the entire meal. I even had to let them get thrown away, which usually turns me into Sheldon in The Bing Bang Theory’s clone.

Ta da!

We didn’t break. So it goes with our Clean Eating challenge as we hit the middle of our first week. The challenge is pretty simple: no processed foods of any kinds, very low in carbs, high in lean protein, tons of veggies, five meals a day, yet all small and no Mulligans. We’re sticking to it.

I can say that now with confidence because we passed the bread test. As is clear from this site, I love everything about bread. Especially making it. Eating it is pretty zipbang special too. About the only thing I crave more is chocolate and, oddly, that is allowed a couple of times in this challenge! So if we were going to blow it, the bread would have been it.

So that’s the good news. We’re going to make it, I’m pretty sure. It’s not really that hard at all. The menus are so well-organized that cooking is quick and not having to plan or think about it removes a lot of the temptation to make a fat burger with fries,


or whip up one of my favorite binge foods.

We’ve had some really good meals in these past few days. I can honestly say I’ve never had a more lively, delicious salad as this Asparagus and egg salad on Day One.


It also has taken things we eat often and given them a twist, which has helped me get out of the rut of things were eating, even when we were eating healthy. What’s not to love about this:

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And my usual morning omelet was streamlined to make it much healthier, but it still tasted just fine. So I had to ditch the salami and ricotta and have instead a little goat cheese and peppers, but it was fine.

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The whole point of this thing — to rediscover the physical, spiritual and emotional balance that is critical to sobriety, and to keep the creep of weight gain from getting out of control — is being met better than I expected. I feel far more centered and less obsessive about food. I’m not having addictive cravings about dessert at night that I can’t mentally shake (though The Bride had a dream about Chocolate Cake last night… wish I had that dream to tell you the truth). We walked nearly 20,000 steps yesterday, worked out, spent 20 minutes in quiet spiritual devotion and god some work done. In short, I feel more like I did a year ago, when I felt great… great enough to start this whole website focused on celebrating healthy recovery.

So for those keeping score at home, I’d have to say the plus side of this effort so far is kicking the sugar addiction I had in full swing before I started, kicking my metabolism into hyper drive and feeling more in balance overall again. The negative side, the hangover like headache that comes with the detox is a bummer (though on it has finally started to ease up) and the lack of any breads likely isn’t sustainable. I’ll put breads (and the occasional dessert) back into the meal plan going forward, but far less often as we were doing before started this plan.

And yes, like I said, we even had chocolate:

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So ask yourself: What’s keeping you from taking the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge today?


Day One: Juice cleanse detoxes dessert addiction

I’m an addict. Of course, that’s well documented here at a site that is basically dedicated to recovery. What’s different about that statement, what might not be as well known, is that as an addict I run a gamut of addictions every day.

I’m an alcoholic who drank every day for twenty years. I haven’t had a drink in more than five. That’s good. I’m doing well.

But I still end up flat footed often when the addict part of me surfaces. I may not be tempted much any more to drink, but the same thought processes in my brain still run amok like a lab let off a leash amid a flock of seagulls.

Lately it’s been sugar. Dessert to be precise. I love dessert. It’s clearly a swapped drug to some extent. I used to love happy hours and nighttime cocktails and everything that made my brain fuzzy and my anxiety quiet. Now, it’s those bites of decadence at the end of a long day. I may not get quite the same buzz experience, but the firing in my brain is pretty similar. Dessert soothes me, as weird as that sounds. And those times I don’t reward myself, I find my mind obsessing on cravings of chocolate late at night watching Netflix and thinking only about a batch of cookies or something like it.

I had to admit, I was powerless. So I looked at the bear within and got serious. I started a food detox, both to combat the growing creep of weight gain, but also to get my mental state aligned properly. I felt out of alignment. Chocolate had knocked me out of balance. This food refocusing is meant to center me up again  and break the addictive thinking about dessert.

(OK, the fact that much of this site is dedicated to food recipes, many that are desserts is not lost on me. I love desserts and will love them again. The challenge is to love within reason!)

Sound extreme? Maybe. Nobody I know of ran a car through a shopping center drunk on dessert, so maybe it’s not as bad. But seeing how obesity is rampant, and people are dying of obesity-related diseases at an epidemic rate, maybe this addiction is extreme.

I don’t know really. I just know I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling complusiveThat is how desserts had become. A compulsion.

So I started this food plan, the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge knowing I needed a higher power. Buzzfeed is it for the next couple of weeks.

But I went a step further as well. I decided I needed to detox a bit before I started. I need to purge the drug of dessert.

So I did a cleanse.

I actually wanted to do a full-scale colonic, but that had to wait. This food challenge couldn’t wait. So I bought a cleanse product from Trader Joe’s that really is a whole bunch of fiber pills. I used it once several years ago and found it helpful, but not invasive. I did one of these cleanses before that and it was well… explosive. Invasive doesn’t do it justice. I felt wrung out from the inside and just didn’t want to experience that much purging this time around.

But to make sure I completely cleanses, I also started my Trader Joe cleanse with a 24 hour fast and juice cleanse.


The Bride and I trotted over to the farmer’s market and about $40 bucks worth of fruits and vegetables. I didn’t have my juicer, so we just mashed them all to bity bits in the blender and made juices the texture of smoothies.



The Bride and I talked about doing a three-day juice cleanse, but about two juices into it, and the cost of the fruits and veggies to sustain it, quickly changed our minds. We settled on one day.

The juices were (not) good. Not. Really, just ugh. I tried to like them. But I was quickly hungry. And the Trader Joes Fiber was twisting my gut a bit. And I was feeling tired and grumpy and and…

Day one sucked, to put it plainly. It was not in the least bit sustainable, which, as I often say, is critical to any food plan. But this wasn’t a food plan, it was detox. It was meant to be hell, I think. Maybe I wanted to punish myself.

What surprised me was not the hunger or the cravings. What did surprise me was my body’s reaction. It rebelled. I felt back pains. My head ached. I felt sluggish. Later in the day I could actually feel the toxins coming off me (ok, not actually actually, but sort of mystically actually… let’s just call it figuratively). I felt like I was… well, hung over, if you can believe that.

I couldn’t. It wasn’t like I was stuffing my face with Ding Dongs for the past three years. I ate pretty well over all. But clearly I was more out of balance than I thought. My dessert cravings had impacted my internal well being.

Turns out, The Bride was right there with me. By the end of the day we were a mess. We slugged off to bed early. As we lay there in the darkness my head swirled. Then I heard the Bride say,

“My head is swimming like I’m drunk. This is nuts.”

Yes. Very. So maybe this food addiction is pretty extreme. Maybe more people should try to detox for a day and see just what their body is trying to tell them. Maybe we’are all little more addicted than we think.

Food, work, prayer: An unexpected good day

Mania can be a wonderful thing in moderation. I had a nice blast of it yesterday.
If I had to pinpoint one change — the biggest change — in my life in recovery, it’s that I have energy. I am interested in so many more things than when I was drinking. These interests motivate me and infuse me with life. I guess it could be construed as manic behavior, but it’s not hyper. It’s an energetic calm. I like it. It’s a gift of sobriety, and it played out nicely yesterday:
I wrote a story before 7 a.m. Then finished the overdue revisions of my book proposal. Then baked a pot of black beans. Then made homemade tortillas. Then with the kitchen back in service after a month of solitude, I went full force into Effin Artist favorites: I made a nice wheat bread with flax, paprika, chili and pepper.
I made decadent triple chocolate cookies.
I then remembered I had lost my wedding ring a couple of weeks ago in my pond. I know I lost it in the pond. The cold water made it slip off, I was certain. I had thumbed the blank spot uneasily for days, so I decided to go get it back.
I drained the entire thing and sifted the gook through my finger. No ring! I prayed for my ring while I fixed the pond all up and reworked the little waterfall to make it flow better.
Stinking like a dead fish I decided to weed the driveway, move the planters into the back yard (protected from the deer that gave them a haircut in my absence), filled the pond and while tweaking the creek found my ring!
Back inside I showered off the gook and decided I was hungry. I made homemade fish tacos. One bite and I was envisioning an Effin Artist taco truck in downtown SF charging $10 bucks for these with a line so long it blocks traffic. Wowsa. The Giants pounded the Twins while I ate.
fish tacos
The cookies capped off the manic day along with a prayer of gratitude for both the day and my ring (and a little cheer for the Giants win).
Good days aren’t always easy to find, but a little work, a little creativity, a little prayer and a most unexpected, welcome, grateful tired ended this one. A very good day indeed.

Test kitchen to return to artistic pursuit of chocolate

We mess around with a lot of different things in the test kitchen. We can be so all over the map that it’s hard to remember this whole thing started with the idea of experimenting with chocolate. We launched the test kitchen to simply experiment with the artistic expression of chocolate– art you can eat, we called it, because we don’t like the clutter of most types of artistic expression.

The idea for all things Effin Artist came to me in rehab. Needless to say, the food sucked. Hell, everything sucked. But my daughter sent me books on artisan chocolate. I had mentioned in passing the idea — virtually clueless that the trend was long established — and she sent me the books to encourage me. I’d lay there and look at the incredible pictures of different chocolates with exotic flavors and beautiful expression and I simply wanted to make those things. Losing wine and cocktails and happy hours I was desperate for something I could call mine. Chocolate — the idea of it anyway — became “mine.”

Now nearly five years into sobriety my life is rich, full and expressive, in direct contrast to the narrowed, limited and depraved life that came at the end of my two-decade long dance with the bottle.

Here I sit on the other side of those perilous mountains of recovery that I simply couldn’t imagine crossing and life is good. EffinArtist is more than I ever dreamed it would be. Life is too. Health is great. Creativity is the key to sobriety. Blessed, I think daily. Blessed.

But those original pictures of chocolate art remain beyond reality and it’s time to change all that, I think.

As the test kitchen evolved, we went where our interest took us and so far, most of our chocolate remains entirely experimental and not very artistic at all.

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This summer we resolve to return to the original mission for a basic reason: A piece or two of beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates satisfies on so many levels: artistic expression, sweet tooth cravings, but also maintaining a healthy approach to food. And because it’s not easy, we have the blessing of Jimmy Dugan, and the interest to see it through.


Jumped off the band wagon for cake pops

Here’s two truths I felt strongly about: 1) I don’t do trendy, which is why I haven’t had the least bit of interest in cake pops. 2) By popular demand of my relatively cranky family email chain, I’ve been making healthier stuff in the test kitchen to help battle the post-holiday bulge.

Having finished Bran Muffins (which went for about three weeks instead of one) I was moving on to Energy Bars.

But then my truths collided. In an impulsive desire to make a birthday present (and probably because my food drug was Jonesing for a rush) I went out and impulsively decided to make cake pops. That’s the drug talking, I’m sure.

Turns out, forget trendy, I love these little suckers and they reinforced a core principle I have about life in general. Philosophy on a stick, that’s what these are.

I made two types (of course… I have to experiment… clearly you get that by now, right?) with a couple of different ways to top them. The chocolate topping I used a tradition melted, pre-tempered product that only further convinced me that I need to get over my fears of tempering chocolate and figure it out. Soon… soon… (I hope?)… For the peanut butter ones I used Reese’s Peanut Butter morsels, melted down. They were heavier and had to be painted on, which made them look like hippie cake pops with shaggy hair. I sort of liked it, but we’ll work on the presentation (and apparently the photo… I wasn’t high, I promise!).


Here’s the one key, above all keys… whatever you use for the glue, be it frosting or like I did, a caramel filling, don’t use VERY much. I used less than a 1/3 of a cup for 3/4 of an entire cake (ON impulse I dug out some frozen white chocolate frosting I had from the holidays, because you know I never waste anything!) and cut a couple of pieces for The Bride and I. Nothing like chocolate cake and a big glass of milk!

I let the cake chill overnight in the fridge, which wasn’t necessary but really helped when it came time to make the pops. You need them to form and stick and hold together while you make them or they will fall off the stick. (By the way, I nabbed the foam to hold them from a florist for a couple of bucks.)

This is the whole thing when it comes to cake pops, that delicate balance between wanting the center to taste like cake, not gooey dough, but still hold together on the pop.


Balance. That’s the key. I held all these things in tension and with a little practice discovered a delightful treat, which is really the perfect size for those cravings or treats or whatever you call it when you need something delightfully sinful.

And that’s why I now love cake pops. They are balanced, which is really the secret to most everything in life.

As I ate my delightfully fluffy, moist, but not gooey cake pops, I reflected on how they emulate life, precariously perched on the point of a stick, doing our level best to hang on and still turn out delightful, balanced and sweet. That’s life. Cake pops as life! Seinfeld looked to the cookie! I look to the cake pop!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Muffins surprisingly tasty, low in sugar

We originally set out to make a bran muffin taste like a snickers bar, and do it with very little sugar. It didn’t really work, but we did discover you can make caramel from nothing but sweet potatoes and water and its very passable, which we will surely employ in our upcoming Energy Bar Test Kitchen.

Eventually we circled back to a classic Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Muffin. This might be our best creation because its BIG, its filling and its loaded with protein. Each muffin has only 230 calories, and 8 grams of sugar. Just 24 carbs for any muffin is pretty low. The peanut butter pushed the fat grams to a tolerable 8 grams and made it very tasty.

Here’s how to make it:


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbls dark, unsweetened coca powder
  • 1 cup chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly whipped until combined
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup natural EffinArtist Peanut Butter (ok, any natural PB without sugar will do).
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt


  1. Prepare muffin pans by greasing sides lightly with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer combine peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, milk, yogurt and vanilla, just until blended, about two minutes.
  4. Fold wet into dry until combined.
  5. Pour batter into muffin pan, nearly full so they will rise and become very big.
  6. Bake for about 18 minutes, but watch carefully. Check with tester and remove promptly when dough has clotted and the tester comes out nearly smooth.
  7. Let stand for five minutes then remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Best served warm but kept well for several days. Can be frozen as well.

For the best tasting, lightest Bran Muffins you’ve ever had check out the Cranberry Banana Bran Muffins we also made in the test kitchen.

Nutrition Facts 

  9 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 230.7
  Total Fat 9.5 g
  Saturated Fat 2.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.5 g
  Cholesterol 43.4 mg
  Sodium 210.0 mg
  Potassium 105.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 24.9 g
  Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
  Sugars 8.5 g
  Protein 15.1 g

Shirk the Valentine’s day game with the practice of romance

It’s Valentine’s Day. So, naturally I suppose I should take this time to write about the love that I have for my husband. I mean, as women, we expect this from our lovers correct? As women we are supposed to live for this day. At work, we wait for the dozen roses to arrive because this, we are programmed to believe, is the day that our lovers are expected to shower us with roses and chocolates. We look forward to a night out with our lover. Get dressed up, nice dinner with an even nicer bottle of wine. As women we are programmed for this shit.


Did I miss something? Is there a flaw in my genetic makeup, because I don’t buy into this holiday. In fact, my hubby and I don’t do anything extravagant or magnificent on Valentine’s Day. Do you want to know why? (Effin Artist: I’ll take a guess. Is it because if people knew we were celebrating a saint who was brutally martyred for his deep abiding love in Christ all the romance would be doused like a cold shower? No?)

Because, we are both secure in our relationship to know that we don’t need Valentine’s Day to tell each other that we are special to each other. (EA: Oh yeah, that too.) That we love each other. That we are dedicated to each other. If you are in a loving, committed relationship this sentiment should flow naturally from you to yours truly. (EA: “uh… I do like chocolate, I’m just saying…”)

Now, I must confess, before I go any further: I am not your typical woman. I am not overly romantic, nor do I need to be swooned over. I’m just not that way. My husband, I’m sure will chime in and agree 100% on this. (EA: Yes. I will chime in and agree.) We often joke that I am the man in our relationship. I’ll never forget the time that I bought him a mother’s day present. (EA: A ’95 Opus One. I nearly wept. I never got to drink it. I went into rehab before I opened it. Shit. Thanks for that memory baby. Happy Valentine’s to you too…) It’s a joke we share about our relationship, and this is the beauty in our relationship, that we can joke about this obvious switch of roles. (EA: Recently I told The Bride that she’s such a Marine. She comes home and expects me to put out. HOO WAH! I like a little sweet nothings if it’s not too much to ask… I did probably spend all day slaving over a hot stov….you know what, I’ll just stop right now before I have to check my own manhood.)

I’m confident in my relationship with my husband. I know that he loves me, and that he is 100% in love with me. I say to him often, “Honey you are stuck with me. My baggage matches yours.” I couldn’t imagine going through life with another. I’m lucky. He’s 100% present and all loving in our relationship. He puts my needs before his, always. (EA: Actually, I went back over the years and did the math. It’s 99.4% love, 87.7* present –it’s tough to be present even that much, cut me some slack– and 91.3% her needs first, but The Bride likes to say “One hundred percent” a lot and I don’t want to discourage her enthusiasm. But I’m not 100 percent, though 91.3% is not that bad.) I can’t remember a time when he didn’t do this (EA:I can but I’m not saying).

I find heart-shaped Valentine’s nearly every day that I spend with him. In the way that he wakes up next to me each morning, with a kiss on a neck and a “good morning, my love.” In the way that he always makes sure that I have a warm cup of coffee. In the way that he cooks me dinner each and every night. In the way that when he’s in the other room, listening to Pandora and our wedding song comes on (“I’ll Be,” by Edwin McCain) he turns it up, and I know that he’s thinking back to that beautiful day. In the way that he will run my baths, making sure to add bath salts or bubble bath, and the fact that he knows how much I love my baths really, really hot. In the way that he rubs my feet, and from time to time paints my toenails. He loves me for me, and wouldn’t change anything about me. He often says that he is most attracted to me when I’ve just woken up, bed head, no makeup on my face. I love this man. He will always be my beloved. (EA: “Well… if that’s not the best Effin Valentine’s Day card ever, I don’t know what is.. and wasn’t this about not wanting to do the Hallmark holiday?!)

When I think to the future, whatever God has in store, whatever doors open or shut I may not know about any of this but I know that he will be right by my side. He’ll be holding my hand or walking a few steps behind me, letting me shine and be me. Or, he might be carrying me because I’ve grown weary and tired of the day’s stresses. I don’t know what is going to happen to me in the future, where my life is going to take me but I do know that my husband will be with me, and he will be my biggest cheerleader. My champion. “The greatest fan of my life.”

My love – I love you truly, madly deeply.

(EA: I’ll admit, I’m a bit choked up right now. I love you truly, madly deeply as well. Happy Not Valentine’s Day. HOO WA!”)

News From the Test Kitchen: Peanut Butter

If I made resolutions, which I don’t  (see resolutions, suck) I would have resolved to back off the whole sugary addiction I’ve been nursing under the guise of holiday cheer since, oh… November 1.

I mean, I got a serious problem here. I love coffee and love chocolate. Love for me quickly can teeter into obsession.

So the test kitchen this week backed off of sugar and sought a purer ingredient, with far more healthy possibilities: Peanut Butter.

I’ve always thought homemade peanut butter should be one of those things I do because it’s expensive and I eat a lot of it. Yes, yes, I know, peanut butter is full of fat, but the whole low-fat thing is such a fraud I eat it likely because of the reaction it gets. Eat healthy food. Be active. You’ll be fine. That’s my diet plan anyway. Peanut butter fits in nicely. By the way, you are welcome to join me in a winter work-out schedule that I love: outside, active, all-body, and beneficial — commercial over, back to the show:

So I made peanut butter and as soon as I made it I wondered what the hell took me so long.

I researched and read and watched a video on you tube and soon I discovered that the people touting how easy it was to make still took longer to explain it than to make it. If it’s so easy why do you need a video and a long recipe and all that noise, I wondered? Truth is you don’t. I edited out the noise for you. Here’s the simple, to the point facts about how to make peanut butter:

Get some peanuts. Bang the bejeesus out of them. Done.

Got it?

Really, that’s it. If you have a food processor just turn it on for about six minutes and you’ll end up with peanut butter. Being the test kitchen, I of course bumbled around a bit and modified a bit and came up with “my” recipe, which is this:

Get some peanuts. Bang the beejesus out of them. Open the food processor and dump in a glug of grapeseed oil, a splash of vanilla, a smoosh of cinnamon and some salt and bang the beejesus out of them some more. Done.

So there you have it. Peanut Butter, home made. If you buy the not-so-fancy bulk peanuts at a normal, not fancy dancy store you likely end up paying about half the jar of a quality peanut butter. And that doesn’t suck (see Peanut Butter, doesn’t suck).

I even put mine through a taste test with my two other favorite peanut butters. It was a blind taste test (actually, that’s not true at all… I was looking at the jars the whole time) and wouldn’t you know it, I WON!

Who did you really think would win with me as the only judge and the whole blind taste test thing a baldface lie?

Go ahead. Bang some peanuts. You’ll like them.

Today, I’m finishing the test kitchen week with four peanut butter recipes:

1) Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy bars

2) High energy pre-run energy bars

3) Chinese noodles and vegetables

4) Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (the addiction lives!)

Putting that Peanut Butter in action today!

Effin Artist out.

To unsubscribe to these emails take your complaint letter and instead of mailing it to me, slip it in your food processors after you’re done with the peanuts and give it a whirl. I suspect that one just might work.

Holiday cheer send off, let the withdrawals begin

Tonight I finished off the last of the fudge I made for Christmas:

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The Christmas cookies went the way of gifts, and I stupidly forget to slip some into my freezer:

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Even the stocking stuffers are long gone:

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Seriously, no stale marsh-mellow Santas in our stockings… how bad do you want to be my kid at Christmas, I ask you?! Pretty… bad.

Christmas is officially over. It’s been fun. Very fun. But the good times can’t last forever, and apparently neither can the chocolate. Let the withdrawals begin, sadly.

But the memories will last because we ate like kids playing hide-and-seek with Willy Wonka this year! Ummm mmmn good.

Balance essential to Effin Artistry

As any reader of this blog can soon discover, I eat. I love to eat. I plan my eating and enjoy it thoroughly. I also have my compulsions, especially chocolate, hence the pursuit of the most artistic chocolatart creations I can muster with my limited skills. I have my addictions too… caffeine mostly. Even my Effin Art can get out of balance. Tshirts? Really?


This state of affairs may not seem ideal, but it beats the twenty years of alcoholism that proceeded it. Then I hardly ate. Never ate chocolate or deserts because they interfered with my nightcap (read: nightcaps.. as in plural. very plural) and still was 100 pounds overweight. People most often compared me Tony Soprano, which was sadly apt. Like the wonderful actor who played him, James Gandolfini, I was well on my way to an early grave. I had many compulsions, fueled by recklessness that was a direct response to stress and the increasing problems that rose from such drunken recklessness.

The key is not idealism, but balance. I like living in balance. My life works in balance and it didn’t under the weight of my many pursuits back in the day. Life in pursuit of an ideal lacks fulfillment in the moment, oddly enough especially after the idealized goal is achieved. In fact, there is rarely a moment. Life lived in pursuit is lived in the future, with a million wonderful present moments lost in the swirl of noise and restlessness.

To stay the course I set upon several years ago, I work on balance with the attention of a surgeon. The slightest tremor in “the force” causes me to raise an eye and consider it. When those tremors have been going off for a while and I’ve not responded, I know I’m out of balance.

Today was one of those re-balancing days. I’ve gained a few pounds as holidays have given me a lot of excuses to bake treats. It’s no big concern but I needed to pay it heed. Another tremor: I’ve not had much time lately for my mental practices, like learning Spanish, playing guitar and doing yoga (FYI, the woman pictured here has a nice website about yoga). These things bring me into the present better than most. The discipline of practice is an important tool of sobriety for me. I’ve been studying Spanish for years and actual conversation still largely eludes me, so clearly its not about success. Listen to me play the guitar (which is tough, considering as a rule I don’t play for human beings), and you’ll know the effort is far, far, far from ideal. And, as my yoga teacher likes to say, “we’ll never be on the cover of Yoga Journal.” (Amen to that says those who have seen me do yoga).

I allocate my time according to my priorities. It’s just a fact. I’ve found in my own life when one “doesn’t have time” for something they say they really want to do they either are lying to themselves and others or they are very out of balance. That I haven’t afforded some of these basic things the necessary time to pursue them is a tremor telling me I’m out of balance.

So today, I try to re-calibrate myself. I started a new six-week exercise program to deal with those extra pounds — Lord knows I’m not giving up chocolate — and I’m creating a new structure to fold in some of the above activities into the mix. Nothing radical. Nothing too extreme. Just a humble effort to stay in balance.

I top it off with a prayer, asking the giver of a good gifts to lead me in these humble efforts to be the best me I can be. When I speak of hoof to head, I’m not just talking about food, I’m more often talking about me.

May you be in balance today.