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Mood control for the frazzled and fed-up

I’m not sure why I feel so optimistic these days. It’s not as if the audacity of hope has crossed the border into Canada. Here we’re stuck with the audacity of arrogance and deceit, which is the price of electing the schoolyard bully for Prime Minister. Meanwhile winter’s digging in and the economic “bottom” we’ve all been waiting for might as well be at the bottom of the ocean. The one thing I can control is my mood.

I schlepped along through decades of so-called adult life before I learned the secret of mood control. Who knew it could be so blindingly simple? If something makes me anxious and crabby, I’m wise to avoid it (no scare-mongering news stories about the next depression, no calls to the woman who’s doing her best with my money). Conversely, if something lifts my spirits, I might as well enjoy it and celebrate it every chance I get. Here, a few pleasures I’m counting on these days.

Brussels sprouts Don’t laugh until you’ve tried this cold-weather standby my way. Sliver them on the diagonal, cutting out large cores. Toss in a frying pan where you’ve been tenderly sauteing shallots and pancetta in olive oil. (You can substitute bacon for the pancetta, which gives you the bonus of all that robust-tasting fat.) Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and just enough water for stir-frying until crisp tender. Listen for cries of amazement. (Note to Toronto readers: if you’re feeling flush, head over to Tomi-Kro, where the many delights of the kitchen include a memorable warm brussels sprout slaw.)

PraetoriusChoral music Let others have themselves a merry little Christmas on the CD player. Give me a mighty organ and a choir with a well-honed sense of the sublime. Lately I’ve been listening to the Praetorius Christmas Vespers while I chop my brussels sprouts. I’ve been waiting all year for the chance to hear this glorious music in my living room—and if I’d cheated back in June, it wouldn’t be the highlight that it is, my very own heavenly host.

Red toenails I have as many unsightly lumps and bumps on my feet as every woman who’s done battle with pointy shoes. But I smile every time I look down at my toes. That’s the magic of a pedicure every five weeks, winter be damned. On Friday night I scurried home from the nail salon with a furry hat pulled low over my brow and silver sandals on my feet. My husband laughed, but my polish looked perfect.

The power of sisterhood The virtual coffee’s always fresh and hot at The Sister Project, an online community for all of us who’ve ever loved, fought, admired, resented or competed with a sister. Lovely to look at and compelling to read, this new site is like a visit with sisters Marion and Margaret Roach, who tell the interwoven stories of their lives with grace, wit and honesty. If you identified with “A Tale of Two Sisters,” the article I wrote with my sister Joyce, be sure to check it out. Small-world department: Margaret Roach used to work with my sister Joyce.

What’s making you smile these days? I’d love to know…

Posted by Rona

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