Monday, December 18, 2017


There was snow on the ground and chill in the air, but neither the Nutritionists And Friends In Action {NAFIA} members nor the children and their parents yielded to the less than favorable conditions.  We all came out for Choose To Care's {CTC} holiday celebration.  The theme was "Have A Snacking Good Time"  Indeed they did and left joyful after participating in nutrition and exercise activities; enjoying more than one serving of fruits and yogurt mixture, served in a cone and of course their brand new pair of shoes.

As soon as the last kid exited we began planning for our upcoming event, a fundraising brunch.  As important as this is, I knew that it was equally important for us to take a pause and reflect on the work we have done together.  The progress we have achieved is remarkable, we realized the impact of our work and noticed the gratitude on the face of the family members whose children benefit from our goal to provide a brand new pair of shoes for the child in need.We are glad that our additional platforms also aim to improve their lives:

  • Leading the children and family to a healthier lifestyle
  • Ways to care for the environment they live in and the world at large

Thanks NAFIA team for your enduring support, your commitment and compassion; you have given us all HOPE.   
But we  have paused long enough.  Meet you at the next shindig on 1/13/18, the Van Diemens Restaurant.  Mission accomplished we say with pride.

"If only I had a magic wand to fix the perils we face
But all I have is the belief that better will come."

Thursday, December 7, 2017


                                      For goodness sake
                                      What saddened face you make
                                       Let's meet your soul
                                       It is tapping away
                                       Listen, it says, fetch me
                                       Lest I get stifled
                                       Will you heed its plea?

                                       You have kept it in hiding
                                        Your soul is yearning
                                        Go deeper, let me show you where
                                         Be quiet, I hear a faint voice
                                         Now did you hear it?
                                         It is stronger! I am coming, it is saying
                                         Trapped so long, I am slowly making my way

                                          Surrender, your soul has been released
                                          And dullness turned to brightness
                                          Jubilant, Jovial, Joyful
                                          The tide has turned
                                          A true believer has been conquered

BRAWTA(from the bitter-sweet series)


  • It is as if a "fairy godmother" appeared, recognized the sadness and gave a helping hand.Can you tell of a moment when someone did the same for you?
  • There is reference to the soul as being buried - Explain
  • What lines indicate that it was not an easy passage to find the soul?
  • The command to surrender is the Poet's way of asking to remove the fear - when have you let fear hinder you?
  • Make Me A Believer is the title - Interpret


                                                COURAGEOUS  Jamie
                                                With calm spirit and warm heart
                                                 Triumphantly awakens at the break of dawn
                                                 To face another day
                                                  And no one knows the pain she bears

                                                 And as she makes her presence known
                                                 Her kind words melt your soul
                                                 With a smile that spreads wide
                                                 She lights up the skies
                                                 Grabbed by her invigorating mood
                                                 You are pulled to adjust your ways
                                                  So you too may see the goodness of the day

                                                  When darkness dares to seep in
                                                   She shines a light its way
                                                   As if to say "you can't linger here"
                                                   Her good deeds soar and catch you may
                                                   It's free for the world, you need not pay
                                                   HUMBLE Jamie filled with gratitude
                                                   Has figured it out
                                                   Spreading Joy has made her journey
                                                   A worthwhile ride

BRAWTA (from: The Jump For Joy Series)



  • It seems that the Poet intentionally inserted the line, "And no one knows the pain she bears" 
What does this tell you about Jamie?

  • What does darkness refer to?
  • Explain: "she shines a light its way"
  • Another word for journey as it is used here
  • What message(s) have you gathered from this poem?


Saturday, December 2, 2017


                                                 They summoned her
                                                 And the butterflies came too
                                                 Shaken, she nervously entered the unknown
                                                 Poised but trembling
                                                 She faced her judges
                                                 Still unsure of the reason
                                                 For this masquerade

                                                "Where is this leading?" she wondered
                                                As she rode out the small talks with fear
                                                And out of nowhere they dropped
                                                The the dreaded words
                                                "You are not needed anymore"

                                                Taken off guard she stuttered a little
                                                 But quickly recovered
                                                 "Is this it?" she muttered in dismay
                                                 As she looked on stunned
                                                 Lips were moving, words were spoken
                                                 But she knew not what was said

                                                  "Am I deserving of this?"
                                                  "Am I deserving of this?" she repeated
                                                   No one replied, they only stared in silence
                                                   And she moved away in disbelief
                                                   SURRENDERED      REMOVED    VOIDED
                                                                       And soon after
                                                   RECOVERED           RELIEVED  

(Brawta: From the Bitter&Sweet series)

Questions To Ponder
  • The butterflies came - what is the Poet referring to?
  • The word RECOVERED was used twice - what is the significance each time?
  • "Lips were moving, words were spoken"  - Imagine what these words were?
  • The poem ended with words describing: A sad finale and a joyful rebirth - use other words that would give the same effect
  • Throughout the Poet presented a moving story of someone going through troubling times -think about a time when you were faced with a similar circumstance and how did you ride out the storm?
  • Your interpretation of the title's message "Flipping The Storm"

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Before you even get a chance to properly pronounce their names, our tour guides on this incredible journey in South Africa were professing their love for their country. I share their sentiments, even as an outsider, I am drawn to this beautiful country.  We landed in Johannesburg, 50 of us had made this trip to the "Joy of Jazz festival" where we swayed and rocked to the sounds coming from the instruments of the skilled  musicians.  I did not see Hugh Masekahla, one of my all time favorites.  I later learned that because of illness he had to cancel. Those that I was fortunate to see put on a show.  I was dazzled by the energy of the performers, young and old, they were in a class of their own.

We spent two days in the wilderness with the majestic animals. On our first evening out, we began our search for the Big 5 and we were lucky to see the elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. We drove around in the dark, searching and none of my travel companions seemed to mind the fierce winds, the threatening rain; we all wanted that 5th animal, the elusive cape buffalo.  Two more outings out in the wild, searching and hoping but the cape buffalo never made an appearance.  The springbok, South Africa's national animal was plentiful.  This beautiful animal can live without drinking water for years, just by eating succulent vegetation.

Our tour of Soweto and learning of it's history, was an important part of this trip. Our visit to the Mandela Museum, viewing his life's journey left me in awe. We mingled with the bus loads of tourists who were just as curious to learn of this awesome man and the sacrifices he made.

We made our way to drop dead Cape Town.  The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront shopping center houses many shops and wonderful treasures.  Our cable ride to the famous table mountain was breathtaking.  As we trekked our way around the mountain, I am so at peace in the surroundings.

We spent an evening in the home of a South African jazz musician, who fed us and entertained us with a local band.  We sang, we danced and ate good tasting South African dishes, prepared and served by the hands of his family who showed joy in mingling with us.

Our shopping excursions were quick, bargaining with the vendors done at high speed.  Apart from the one you are negotiating with,out of the corner of your eyes are other vendors queuing up, waiting their turn to to grab you for a look at their merchandise.  I must admit I don't do well in this haste and bustle; mostly because there are too many choices and truthfully I cannot blame the merchants for going for the best price they can get.  My soft spot wants to pay them the best price, especially for their hard work.

This is not my first trip to South Africa and if I  have my way it will not be the last.  I am always in admiration of the beauty of Cape Town. Everything in its place, clean streets, modern looking buildings, even the aging ones show beauty. There is this willingness to share its beauty and eventually you will surrender.  The city beckons to you, to explore it, not to be afraid.
Johannesburg has its own share of beauty;it is vibrant, the residents seem happy go lucky.  They invite you to join them and will not wait for you to make up your mind, with outstretched hands, they take you along.

We covered a lot of grounds  in a short time.  From a trip to see the Penguins, a whole colony of them, the museum of apartheid, Pretoria, wine tour, eating at the Braai, (barbecue)that offered a spread of food and entertainment, all lasting memories.  I overdosed on my favorite Rooibos tea and came away with different ways to prepare this South African red bush tea.

Jo'Burg, as it is affectionately called and Cape Town offer different experiences, but for sure, they share the sense of community.  This is the spirit of the new South Africa.

UBUNTU!("I am what I am because of who we all are")

Thursday, September 21, 2017


                                 She flashes her freshly straightened hair
                                 Twists it in a coil, drops it again
                                 An action that continues,as if a nervous tic has set in
                                 That is the case I suspect but even bigger than that
                                  is the ego, otherwise known as
                                  ATTENTION GRABBER
                                  That has taken over

                                   Her action screams "look at me"
                                   Her eyes are dashing and a slight smile
                                   Appears on her hardened face
                                   Like a bull she is ready to charge
                                   She is sitting on a high horse
                                    She is climbing Mt. Everest
                                    She becomes that peacock, with wide-spread wings

                                     Where are the little people she shouted in anger
                                     Don't they know who I am?
                                     Why aren't they screaming out my achievements?
                                     I will show them a thing or two
                                     Her face gets harder, that wicked smile gets wider
                                     Spelling  revenge
                                     She pinned another badge of her high standing
                                     On her heavy laden lapel
                                     Let me see them top that!

                                       There is nothing else for me to do, she declared
                                        I know it all, I have done it all
                                        She closed her eyes and beat on her chest
                                        Satisfied with her grading of self

Saturday, August 19, 2017


"Help me to help them was the cry.
And you all came running.
Banding together for a kinder world."
psw/With Gratitude
We were able to get much needed funds through Macy's yearly "Shop For A Cause" project.  This year we were caught by surprise by what is known as CrowdRise Funding.  All donations were handled on-line.  Thanks to the team members who galvanized their friends and families to help us raise $2,184. Thanks to the donors, no matter what your contribution was.

Choose To Care also won one of CrowdRise's  challenge which netted $500.  Now we are able to change the lives of many more kids in need at home and in distant lands.

"If you think you are too small to have an impact, try
to go to bed with a mosquito."
Anita Roddick

Yours in Service


Today, August 19, is CHOOSE TO CARE's Back To School Shoe Distribution Event, to help youths in need who reside in Corona, Queens.  This was an unforgettable day for the youngsters and their families; they received a brand new pair of shoes, joined in fun activities about healthy living and best of all, enjoyed a delicious snack, falafel served with  a dressing made of yogurt, cucumber, and dill.  Who knew that kids would ask for a second serving of this vegetarian delight. We talked about the brain boosting ingredients of this recipe, from garbanzo beans to yogurt and how the ingredients feed our brains. We have begun to use Choose To Care's platform to have kids and their families get on the path to a healthier lifestyle.  Sometimes parents say that their children will not eat certain foods but that's because they never give them a chance to try new things.  They left with the recipe to prepare at home.

We are also passionate about saving the planet and have added simple ways to do so.  Grow NYC has amazing tips on an easy to carry card, that we gave away at this event.  The three R's(Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) will become rooted in our mission.

Choose To Care's shoe distribution was launched in 2008, after a trip to Brazil, where I noticed kids were barefooted, leaving them vulnerable to disease.  Nine years later, thousands of pairs of shoes  given away and we are still going strong, taking our efforts to other States and other Continents.

Thanks to the families and children who answered our invitation.
Thanks to the father who stood up and gave a testimonial on his path to a healthier lifestyle.
This impromptu show of pride, sealed the day's mission; not only did the kids leave with a brand new pair of shoes, fulfilling Choose To Care's goal, but they heard from a parent that small changes are easier to make and stick to and can deliver big results.
Thanks to the members of Nutritionists And Friends In Action(NAFIA) team, who were involved in preparing for this fantastic day.
Thanks to Choose To Care, the small organization with big ambition.  We are thrilled that we are all on this journey together to gain healthy new habits.

We will get up and walk, pace or just move whenever possible.
We will consider the environment.
We will eat sharp and sensible to improve our physical and mental health.

"Service my friends
strengthens the very
fiber of our community.
You made the decision
to be part of this,
and we welcome
your participation."

psw/With Gratitude To You{NAFIA TEAM)

Friday, August 4, 2017


August 19, is fast approaching and the women of the mighty and humble Nutritionists And Friends In Action (NAFIA) group are busy assisting with Choose To Care's BACK TO SCHOOL SHOE DISTRIBUTION event.  We are oh so excited to meet our precious young children.

At this event, falafel and whole wheat bread will take center stage.  All the ingredients that make up this nutritious sandwich(chick peas, olive oil, whole grain, etc) are brain boosters and we will tell them about these brain development foods through a fun activity.

But wait, we are not done yet, what is a Choose To care - NAFIA event without movement? Whether it is the latest dance craze or simply raising the hands, moving the neck, rolling the shoulders,stepping to the left, stepping to the right; we certainly will have everyone moving.

The environment is on our mind too, making it safe and knowing it is our responsibility to protect the earth.  Pulling together is paying off.  We are excited to plan and participate in each event and spend a few hours at what we call "cultivating young lives" so they can grow healthy,step by step.

This year Macy's took their fundraising a step further, allowing qualified non profit organizations to fundraise online.  Thanks to all the generous donors, you are there for them too.

The NAFIA group has focused on the goal of helping the children and their families thrive and this story of the collaboration with Choose To Care should be shouted on every street corner.  They have
stepped up to every calling.

Way to go NAFIA women!

Spread joy wherever you go.


Sunday, July 30, 2017


                                         She cried out to no one in particular
                                         Hoping anyone and everyone would
                                         Hear her plea.
                                         "This is not a hard road to travel," she said
                                         "Come let me show you how
                                          Get ready for a journey down Kindness Road"

                                          Fret not if you come across a bump,
                                          Here and there.
                                          First timers may feel a bit sore,
                                          But on your next round
                                          You will make it without a moan.

                                           Just point to the way to Kindness Road
                                           She shows him, he shows another
                                           To the left, To the right, Around the bend
                                           You can't miss it.
                                            Any turn will lead to Kindness Road

                                            "What if I have a change of heart?" you ask
                                             Too late, says the Genie
                                             That's the wish granted to your fellowmen
                                             And it has spread like wildfire
                                             Any Street, Any Lane, The Alley, The Avenue
                                             Will take you down Kindness Road
                                             There you will find them,
                                              Joyfully banding together
                                              For a kinder world.

psw/from:"Wishes For A Better World"

Saturday, July 29, 2017


                                         Her body is erect
                                         Straight as an arrow
                                         With her head held high
                                          She moves with caution
                                         Aware of the proverbial knife in her back
                                          She has no fear
                                          As she waits for the one

                                            Hateful Dora has a plan
                                            I know I can, I know I can
                                            Let's begin a blame game
                                            And scandalize her name
                                            At things like this I am a pro
                                            I will let everyone know she is a foe
                                            Already I can feel the delightful glow
                                            Wow this is hot
                                             Come on, let's thicken this plot

                                             Join me, let's show her a thing or two
                                             Working together is not hard to do
                                              Let's pull her down
                                              And make her frown
                                              In her pitiful self, she will drown
                                              And at last, they will hand me the crown

                                             The plan they thought was tightly woven
                                              Fell apart as was proven
                                              And the one they wish to conquer
                                              held her head to the sky
                                              And only asked "why?"
                                              Victorious for the moment
                                               But cautious she remained
                                               "I will never let you break me"
                                                She whispered with a smile on her face


Tuesday, June 6, 2017


ON THE MENU is my way of creating a game plan for living authentically.  Each of us will find our own path through this rugged and delightful, BITTER AND SWEET world, finding ways to spice up our routine and live well.  Look to the WORD GAME for words to use or come up with your own.  Keep adding words that are meaningful to you.  Today you may need more understanding and need to show more kindness.  Tomorrow is another story.

You can name your life recipes whatever you desire such as "LIVING WITH JOY"  This sample recipe is called "CREATING POSSIBILITIES"  My first attempt was to begin as an ordinary recipe with precise measurements; a cup of this, 2 Tablespoons of that but quickly realized that this is far from an ordinary recipe and the rules of adjustment and building as you go along, still apply.  I choose not to put my ingredients in precise measurement but you certainly have the flexibility of doing just that.

The ritual powers up my day, feeds my body and just as important, nourishes my soul.

                               RECIPE FOR CREATING POSSIBILITIES

                                          Start with positive vibes,
                                          Throw in understanding,
                                           Kindness and respect,
                                           Patience and fortitude.
                                           Add a dollop of compassion,
                                           For wholesome goodness.
                                           Make adjustment for bitter taste,
                                           Add more delights, A good amount of wisdom,
                                           A pile of Hope, with a joyful spirit.
                                           Sprinkle lots of GRATITUDE
                                           And mix thoroughly
                                           To balance it out; sealing the flavor
                                           And keeping it preserved.
                                            Savor it all.
                                            Offer a BIG SERVING, every chance you get!

                      {No Special Order}

Daily Intentions
Joyful Spirit
Lift Up
Positive Vibes
Rest stop
Soul Satisfying

SIDE ORDERS:  Add your choice of words

Peace &Love

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Today, was the day to make merry, it is April 15 and we are about to meet the young boys and girls and their families who were invited to our event for the day.  CHOOSE TO  CARE (CTC) and NUTRITIONISTS & FRIENDS IN ACTION (NAFIA) members came out to lend a helping hand.  Despite a free day from work, they were there in full force all revved up and ready to go.

Of course this event included the health benefits of nutrition and physical activities.  We borrowed from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the theme "Put Your Best Fork Forward"  One of the team members shared the greatness of whole grains, naming bulgur, quinoa, millet, rice, etc. Some one else led the group through songs and shouted the actions we should take, such as touching our head and moving down to our toes, moving left and right, stomping our feet and sliding.  We tried to keep up with the orders but it was a feat and peals of laughter and excitement rang through the crowd.

After the workout we were hungry and watched as another member demonstrated the preparation of the Fiesta Rice Salad we were waiting to devour. The menu featured this refreshing salad, packed with a variety of ingredients that you can swap out for the ones you prefer(see recipe).  Some of the kids moved closer to watch the "chef" tossed and mixed.  It was such a good sign to see the attentive youth, a nod to our healthier lifestyle movement, we hope will take root in our community.  We know this can be achieved and we are depending on the children to actively participate.  Another of our team member "the commentator" guided us through the preparation steps of this delicious dish and we shared the recipe so that the families can make it at home.

This event gave us our first "intern" who was inspired to approach us to be of assistance.  We are delighted and will surely contact her for our next event in August 2017.  The children left with a brand new pair of shoes, fulfilling CTC's mission which is to provide a brand new pair of shoes for the youth in need.  We continue to hope that exposing the families to these hands-on activities will result in positive outcomes.  We are proud to provide these few hours of cheers and fun for a good cause.

"The passion to serve
runs through your soul.
You cannot escape, even
if you wanted to.  It has landed
on your body, for the world to see."


                                                 FIESTA RICE SALAD

Makes 4 Servings
This cool and refreshing salad is a great way to use leftover rice and turn it into dinner on a hot summer night.

1 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 carrot (shredded)
1 cup broccoli (finely chopped)
1 small red onion (chopped)
1 cup tomato (chopped)
1 bell pepper (green, red, yellow)
1 can kidney beans (15oz, drained, rinsed)
2 tbs. cilantro (or other fresh herbs, finely chopped)
2 tbs. red wine vinegar(white or cider)
1 tbs. vegetable oil
Salt & pepper (to taste)


  1. Wash & chop vegetables & mix with cooked rice.
  2. In a small bowl, add vinegar, oil, dill, salt & pepper(or use your favorite dressing.)
  3. Pour over rice mixture
  4. Add beans and toss well. Serve and enjoy.


Saturday, April 15, 2017


                                                        Her body is erect
                                                        Straight as an arrow
                                                        With her head held high
                                                        She moves with caution
                                                       Aware of the proverbial knife in her back
                                                       She has no fear
                                                       As she waits for the one
                                                       Who will bury it deep.

                                                      Hateful Dora has a plan
                                                      I know I can, I know I can
                                                      Let's begin a blame game
                                                      And scandalize her name
                                                      At things like this I am a pro
                                                      I will let everyone know she is a foe
                                                     Already I can feel the delightful glow
                                                     Wow this is hot
                                                     Come on, let's thicken this plot

                                                    Join me, let's show her a thing or two
                                                   Working together is not hard to do
                                                    Let's pull her down
                                                    And make her frown
                                                    In her pitiful self, she will drown
                                                    And at last, they will hand us the crown.

                                                    The plan they thought was tightly woven
                                                    Fell apart as was proven
                                                   And the one they wished to conquer
                                                   Held her head to the sky
                                                  And only asked why?
                                                  Victorious for the moment
                                                  But cautious she remained
                                                  I will never let you break me
                                                  she whispered.

Peace & Love

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Search out the following herbs and spices and add zest to your meals.  Some come both fresh and dried.

Annatto: Also known as achiote are orange red seeds.Used to flavor soups,stews and rice and fish dishes.  The seeds are often steeped in oil, which takes on the color of the annatto.

Anise:  This wild herb has a slightly minty and licorice flavor; gives a tasty flavor to beverages and fruit salads.

Basil:  Pairs well with parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes, pasta, eggs; gives off an aroma of lemon,mint and licorice.

Berbere:  This is a popular spice used in many Ethiopian dishes.  Contains allspice, coriander, paprika, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, onion and fenugreek.  used to season vegetables and meat.

Cinnamon:  Made from leaves and sticks of the cinnamon plant and are used to flavor puddings, cereals and beverages.

Chervil:  The leaves resemble those of the carrots and are used fresh and dried, added to cream based soups, scrambled eggs, green salads and fish dishes.

Chives:  Used in egg dishes, cream cheese, sauces and soups, root vegetables, particularly potatoes.

Cilantro:  The fresh leaves are used in soups, stews, curries, vegetables and salads.  It has a lemony, floral flavor and used in Thai, Indian and Mexican cuisine.

Coriander:  The fresh leaves are used in stews, soups and vegetable dishes.  The seeds are crushed and used to thicken sauces such as curries.

Culantro:  Used in soups, curries and noodle dishes. It comes with serrated leaves and although related to cilantro has a deeper aroma.

Curry Leaf:  The aroma reminds one of a mix of citrus and anise. These leaves are native to India and are green on top and pale on the bottom, mainly used in legumes and vegetables and savory pastries such as samosa.

Dill :  Fine and feathery leaves, used in mild cheeses, omelets, herrings, salmon.  The seeds are added to stews, rice and breads.

Garam Masala:  A mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, mace, peppercorns, coriander and cumin.  Used in Indian recipes and breads.

Ginger:  The ginger root has pale brown skin and cream-colored flesh.  Scrape off the skin and then slice, chop or grate to add to vegetable, meat, poultry and seafood dishes.  Also used in puddings and cakes.

Lemongrass:  A coarse tropical grass also called citronella.  The bulb and the white portion of the stalk are used as seasonings.  Sliced or chopped lemongrass can be used in soups, sauces and stir-fry. Use in Thai, Vietnamese cuisines.

Mint:  Used in herb teas, meat, poultry,fish and sweet dishes.  Mint has a deep green color and has a cooling effect.

Nutmeg:  is a light brown kernel encased in a web of mace and both spices are aromatic, used in sweet dishes, eggnog, winter squash, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower.

Oregano:  native to the Mediterranean,has soft green leaves, pungent and robust aroma, used in stews, soups, casseroles and sauces.

Parsley:  Used in Middle Eastern cooking and can be added to a variety of dishes, such as stews, salads, fish, poultry, pasta, rice, tabbouleh or used as garnish.

Ras el Hanout:  A mixture of many spices and is basic to Moroccan cooking.

Rosemary:  Can be found year round in the grocery store.  Used in meat, chicken, vegetable dishes and goes well with potatoes.

Sage:  Used in stuffing, salads, sauces and pasta dishes.

Thyme:  A small grayish green leaf herb, which is used to season meat, poultry, vegetable dishes, stews and soups.  Thyme is available fresh yer round in the grocery store.

Zatar:  This is a tangy blend of herbs and spices such as thyme,oregano, toasted sesame seeds and sumac; can be used to season meats or mixed with plain yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil for a dip.


2 tsps                             Ground black pepper
2 tsps                               Sage
2 tsps                               Allspice
2 tbs                                Thyme
8 tbs                                 Oregano
8 tbs                                 Onion Powder
3 tbs                                 Rosemary
3 tbs                                 Basil
3 tbs                                 Garlic Powder

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass container.

Tip:  Stir up your own dried herb blend and liven up your dishes.  A plus when you have to reduce your salt intake.

Peace & Love
Spread joy wherever you go!