A New Year, A New You With SPICES

The Christmas and New Year holidays are traditionally the most celebrated annual events worldwide. As the new year begins to unfold  a large majority of us seek ways to find a more balanced and fulfilled life.

A friend recently shared with me the acronym S-P-I-C-E-S which is a stress balanced-stones-blogmanagement and overall wellness concept in filling your life with a balance in the six areas of Social, Physical, Intellectual, Career, Emotional, and Spiritual.  Each element plays an important role in leading and successful living a well-rounded life and being genuinely happy with your life and the decisions/choices made.

As many know in a balanced life, “being well/wellness” is much more than being free from illnesses and/or a sick body.  It encompasses a positive attitude which incorporate a person’s sense of responsibility and uniqueness.


Being socially active allows one to build and maintain relationships, both personally and professionally.


This is just as it states…being physical, exercising and maintaining the physical movement for balanced wellness (physically and emotionally.)


Being involved in mental activities which are stimulating and creative.


Never underestimate the power of having goals and/or a direction in your life.


Being aware of your emotions and feelings and express or respond in a positive manner.  You’ll be happy you did.


What describes you?  What are your personal beliefs, values, and ethics? These things have an impact on your “balance.”

Let’s strive to add balance to all areas of our life this new year.  Learn to be a little more patient with others, choose our words so they correctly express our true feelings without breaking down others.  Make it a goal to genuinely convey our gratitude to others and build them UP with encouragement.

Make 2015 your best year yet.  Try something new, make life an adventure, make a new friend or two and make memories!  Get out there…you’ve got a life to live!


Julie T. Lusk, M.Ed., R/CYT, Stress Solutions Now

Music for the Soul, Mind, and Spirit

Growing up in a house where music was always on the radio or playing from the stereo, you could say I was exposed to a vast array of genres and therefore enjoy all types of music; especially those from the 1960s and 1970s.

Burt Bacharach

burt_bacharachThere are a lot (and I mean a lot) of songs that I grew up with that derived from one extremely talented man, Mr. Burt Bacharach.  Although you may not be aware, I am certain you have heard his songs.  Mr. Bacharach worked with many talented singers from The Carpenters and Dionne Warwick to Herb Alpert, B.J. Thomas, and Christopher Cross, all amazing artists in their own right, who brought his words to life through song.

Soul, Mind, and Spirit

One of my most favorite songs from my younger years was “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”  I had no clue who wrote or even sung the song, just knew I like the catchy tune.  While researching for this post, I read somewhere that Mr. B wrote (or co-wrote) and/or composed more than 300 songs in his lifetime (hopefully he still has more in the works for us.)  What an accomplishment! (Coming from someone who cannot even begin imagining of composing just the lyrics for one song, much less the composition of the instruments.)

I have sweet sweet memories of being a barefoot kid, walking down the street with friends (Gayla and Mia) while we listened to music on our handheld transistor radio.  We heard and sang to songs like Raindrops Keep Falling, Walk on By, I Need Your Love, and I Say a Little Prayer, just to name a few.

It still amazes me at how quickly a song I hear even today transports me back to a specific time in my life. like it just happened yesterday.  I can see the scene; for instance me, Gayla and Mia, walking down a side street in Gibsonton, FL from Gayla’s house back to mine where we would talk about boys, play records and do-up each others hair.  It was summer, we were wearing sleeveless shirts and short-shorts, the pavement was hot so we tried to stay on the grass next to the road.

Even at the age of forty-eight I can hear a song and think of special times in my life, such as my first ever Yanni or Tim McGraw concert.  I distinctly remember who I was with, what we were wearing and other aspects of the day.

Music has a way of feeding our soul, making our mind recall special times, and lifting our spirits. I would just dread living in a world without the Sound of Music” (which by they way is a move that I’ve yet to see) around us and in movies, oh how boring would life be?

The Music

For a complete list of his songs, you can visit the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

According to the Washington Post, Burt’s top 10 songs of all time are:

  • 10. “Walk On By” — This was Dionne Warwick’s third Top 40 hit reaching No. 6 in May 1964. The song was ranked No. 70 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • 9. “On My Own” — Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, this song was made a No. 1 hit in 1986 on the Billboard charts by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. It was the biggest single for both performers.
  • 8. “What the World Needs Now Is Love” — After Dionne Warwick turned it down, Kentucky-born Jackie DeShannon recorded the song and it reached No. 7 on the U.S. charts in 1965. Coldplay has performed the song. Miss DeShannon later had a bigger hit with her 1969 song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”.
  • 7. “That’s What Friends Are For” — Carole Bayer Sager wrote the lyrics for this song, which Rod Stewart sang for the “Night Shift” soundtrack. The song is best known for the version Dionne Warwick and Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder) recorded and reached No. 1 in the U.S. in 1985 to raise funds for AIDS research.
  • 6. “This Guy’s in Love With You” — Primarily known for his trumpet playing, Herb Alpert sang the lead vocals on this excellent 1968 song and scored his first top hit. It was also the first No. 1 hit for the record label A&M that Mr. Alpert founded with Jerry Moss in 1962.
  • 5. “Anyone Who Had a Heart” —Dionne Warwick had a No. 8 hit and her first Top 10 single with this song in the U.S. in 1964. Cilla Black, a friend of the Beatles in Liverpool, scored a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with her version of the tune. Her cover became the biggest female hit of the 1960s in the U.K. Petula Clark had a No. 1 hit with the song in Spain.
  • 4. “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” — The song became one of Dionne Warwick’s biggest international hits peaking at No. 8 in the U.K., Ireland, and Canada in 1968. It reached No. 10 on the Billboard charts and Miss Warwick won her first Grammy with the song. Hal David, who wrote the lyrics, had a special interest in San Jose, Calif., having been stationed there while in the Navy.
  • 3. “I Say A Little Prayer” —Dionne Warwick had a No. 4 hit with the song in 1967. Aretha Franklin also recorded the song, reaching No. 10 in August 1968.
  • 2. “Arthur’s Theme” (The Best That You Can Do) — Performed by Christopher Cross, the song was the theme song for the Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli film “Arthur,” for which it won an Academy Award. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The song was a collaboration between Mr. Bacharach, Mr. Cross, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen.
  • 1. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” — Ray Stevens was first offered the opportunity to record this song for the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but turned it down. B.J. Thomas recorded the song for the film and it became a No. 1 hit in 1969. The song won an Academy Award for best original song and became a No 1 hit on the Billboard charts.

His Life, His Wife, His Child

Burt-AngieI may have heard before, but it did not really register with me until I was researching for this post that Burt was married to Angie Dickinson and together they had a daughter whom they named Nikki. Nikki was born three months premature in 1966, lived to the age of 41 when she took her own life.  She battle a long life of mental challenges, only for those around her to realize all too late that she was fighting Asperger’s (which is a form of autism.)

For more about Burt’s life, his career, and his music, you can read Burt’s story in his words.

American pianist and composer Burt Bacharach was to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from President Obama on Wednesday night along with his longtime lyricist, Hal David. It is named for George and Ira Gershwin. (Associated Press)

American pianist and composer Burt Bacharach was to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from President Obama on Wednesday night along with his longtime lyricist, Hal David. It is named for George and Ira Gershwin. (Associated Press)

Thanks Burt for the great music and memories.

Paris Apartment, Untouched for 70 Years

A story too good not to share as posted on http://www.warhistoryonline.com.

Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII

article-0-19BC92ED000005DC-676_964x638Caked in dust and full of turn-of-the century treasures, this Paris apartment is like going back in time. Having lain untouched for seven decades the abandoned home was discovered three years ago after its owner died aged 91. The woman who owned the flat, a Mrs De Florian, had fled for the south of France before the outbreak of the Second World War. She never returned and in the 70 years since, it looks like no-one had set foot inside.

 The property was found near a church in the French capital’s 9th arrondissement, between Pigalle red light district and Opera. Experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions which included a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. One expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900. ‘There was a smell of old dust,’ said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. But he said his heart missed a beat when he caught sight of a stunning tableau of a woman in a pink muslin evening dress.

The painting was by Boldini and the subject a beautiful Frenchwoman who turned out to be the artist’s former muse and Mrs de Florian’s grandmother, Marthe de Florian, a beautiful French actress and socialite of the Belle Époque.

article-0-19BC92ED000005DC-676_964x638Under a thick layer of dusk lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects including a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini
 Treasure trove: Behind the door, under a thick layer of dusk lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects, including the Boldini painting that sold for £1.78million

When the owner died died aged 91, experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions

article-2323297-0047A57700000258-147_964x638Mrs de Florian fled Paris before the outbreak of war in 1939, which saw the Nazis invade France and reach Paris on June 14. Pictured here, German officers and Parisians mingle near a sidewalk cafe on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day in 1940

Marthe de Florian was an actress with a long list of ardent admirers whose fervent love letters she kept wrapped neatly in ribbon and were still on the premises. Among the admirers was the 72nd prime minister of France, George Clemenceau, but also Boldini. The expert had a hunch the painting was by Boldini, but could find no record of the painting. ‘No reference book dedicated to Boldini mentioned the tableau, which was never exhibited,’ said Marc Ottavi, the art specialist he consulted about the work. When Mr Choppin-Janvry found a visiting card with a scribbled love note from Boldini, he knew he had struck gold. ‘We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini’.

He finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist’s widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24. The starting price for the painting was £253,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vyed for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for £1.78million, a world record for the artist.

‘It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion,’ said Mr Ottavi.


In 1939, the Germans devised a plan to inflict a major defeat on the French Army in northern France. The Manstein Plan, as it became known, included a attack through southern Belgium that avoided the Maginot Line. The ultimate objective was to reach the Channel coast and to force the French government to surrender.

Adolf Hitler gave his approval to the Manstein Plan on February 17, 1940, but it was not activated until the May 10. The 9th Panzer Division, using its Blitzkreig strategy, advanced quickly into the Netherlands. Belgium was also invaded and the French 7th Army moved forward to help support the Dutch and Belgian forces.

The French military had wrongly believed that the Ardennes was impassable to tanks. Seven panzer divisions reached the Meuse River at Dinant on May 12 and the following day the French government was forced to abandon Paris.

German forces led by Paul von Kliest, Erwin Rommel, Heinz Guderian and Gerd von Rundstedt advanced towards the Channel. Except for a counterattack by 4th Armoured Division led by Charles De Gaulle, at Montcornet (May 17) and Laon (May 27 to 29) the German forces encountered very little resistance.

Winston Churchill now ordered the implementation of Operation Dynamo, a plan to evacuate of troops and equipment from the French port of Dunkirk, that had been drawn up by General John Gort, the Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Between May 27 and June 4, 1940, a total of 693 ships brought back 338,226 people back to Britain. Of these 140,000 were members of the French Army. All heavy equipment was abandoned and left in France.

The French Army tried to hold the line along the Somme and the Aisne. Now clearly outnumbered, the troops were forced to withdraw to the Loire.

Paul Reynaud and his government now left the French capital and moved to Tours. On June 14, the Germans occupied Paris. Reynaud now realised that the German offensive could not be halted and suggested that the government should move to territories it owned in North Africa. This was opposed by his vice-premier, Henri-Philippe Petain, and the supreme commander of the armed forces, General Maxime Weygand. They insisted that the government should remain in France and seek an armistice.

Outvoted, Reynaud resigned and President Albert Lebrun, appointed Petain as France’s new premier. He immediately began negotiations with Adolf Hitler and on June 22 signed an armistice with Germany. The terms of the agreement divided France into occupied and unoccupied zones, with a rigid demarcation line between the two. The Germans would directly control three-fifths of the country, an area that included northern and western France and the entire Atlantic coast. The remaining section of the country would be administered by the French government at Vichy under Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain.

Other provisions of the armistice included the surrender of all Jews living in France to the Germans. The French Army was disbanded except for a force of 100,000 men to maintain domestic order. The 1.5 million French soldiers captured by the Germans were to remain prisoners of war. The French government also agreed to stop members of its armed forces from leaving the country and instructed its citizens not to fight against the Germans. Finally, France had to pay the occupation costs of the German troops.

An estimated 390,000 soldiers were killed defending France whereas around 35,000 German soldiers lost their lives during the invasion.

How can a girl be so stinkin’ happy…

…about a mixer?

Potato Masher For someone who has been using the old fashion hand masher and whisk for the last five or six years, it was a huge surprise to open the heavy over-sized box and find my brand spankin’ new KitchenAid Mixer.

I immediately started thinking about what I was going to make that would “require” me to break out the new gift toy kitchen helper (toy).  Needless to say my train of thought on this topic did not last long as my attention quickly returned to the festivities of the day, watching family open their gifts and enjoying everyone’s company.

When the presents were opened and everyone was enjoying their gifts and visiting others, I retreated to the kitchen to prepare our Christmas meal.  About an hour into the preparations I reached into the utensil drawer and pulled out the tater masher…THEN IT HIT ME!  I can use my new mixer to mash the sweet potatoes and mix the squash casserole ingredients, so I quickly called to my son for assistance. After enduring a few minutes of excited anticipation, there she was sitting tall on the counter, shining in all her glory and waiting to assist in preparing our Christmas meal.

KitchenAid Mixer

KitchenAid Mixer

Maybe it was me, maybe it was because of the mixer, but on that Christmas day I felt the food tasted a little extra delicious.

Thanks dad for the great Christmas gift. I love it and look forward to preparing many tasty dishes with it.

Flashback: Family Breakfast in the 1970s

Silly stuff that stands out in our memories

As I was thinking about my childhood years and what stood the test of time in this old flashback maker brain of mine.  I distinctly remember living in South Tampa (close to MacDill Air Force Base) and we had cousins staying with us.  Mom had five kids mouths to feed in addition to three cousins who were staying the summer.

Saturday morning breakfast

One Saturday morning I remember waking up and shuffling into the kitchen.  Mom was there as well as a sibling or two and a cousin thrown in the mix.

1960s kitchen table

Our table was an old 1960s style aluminum with a decorated top.

They were preparing breakfast for the house of ten.  I asked what I could do to help, mom’s reply was to get plates and napkins on the table (we ate buffet style as our table would not accommodate the number of people.)

So as I stood by the table I’m watching my female cousin make and butter toast.  I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.

burnt toast and butter

The toast was burnt with a huge glop of butter smeared on it (much like this pic.)  I stood there thinking, if I did something like that I would be scolded and told to remake the toast.  I probably would have received some sort of mild punishment as feeding a family of 7 on a limited income was somewhat challenging and wasting food was unacceptable.  But nothing like that took place.  Mom instructed cousin Teresa to scrape off the burnt as best she could and not to use so much butter.

In the end, I don’t really remember what the food tasted like, nor can I recall any snippets of time spent with the cousins that year.  It’s just that dang burnt toast and heaping blob of butter that stands out in one of my memory flashbacks.