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I love words.  They can offer comfort and inspiration when all else fails.

When the day is long and you are weary from your circumstances and lacking in inspiration, a quote or a passage or a poem can lend a reassurance that no conversation can give.

This is my favorite passage to lean on in times when I need a soft place to fall but cannot seem to find one.  From Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke – one of my favorite books of all time – it has gotten me through a dark night or two.

“So you must not be frightened…if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows passes over your hands and over all you do.  You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hands; it will not let you fall.”

When inspiration and comfort are hard to come by, I hope this will help you too.

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“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

–  Eleanor Roosevelt

Growing up, I was always one of the last people to be picked for a team in gym class.  Though I grew up watching sports, thanks to my sports-obsessed brother, I was never any good at them.  Any of them.

As an adult, things have not changed so much.  I don’t do well in group classes in the gym.  I’m terrible in aerobics classes.  My sole triumph was being able to get through spin class in one piece.  That I actually got pretty good at.

For some unknown reason, I decided to take a running class late last year.  Now, I’ve never been a runner, neither long-distance nor a sprinter.  But I decided to try it out, to see if I could condition myself to run.  The goal of the class was to be able to run for 20 minutes straight by the end of the 8 weeks.

To my surprise, I did it.  It wasn’t always easy.  There were humiliating training days, with me on the treadmill chugging away at 4.5 mph (which, by the way, was a HUGE accomplishment for me), only to have some superdude get on the treadmill next to me effortlessly sprinting away at 9.  (It’s bad enough to feel the wind generated by one of these athletes, but it’s much worse to have them look over at your console in pity, as if the speed was simply pathetic.)  Some days, I thought I was just going to pass out right there on the treadmill.   But I did what I set out to do.  Because I’d committed to it.

And so now, I’m committing to another goal.  I’ve signed up to run a half-marathon at the end of April.  It is probably the nuttiest thing I’ve ever done.  Just pure silliness.  Honestly, I’m not thinking about it too much.  If I did, I’d probably talk myself out of it.

It may not be easy, but the essence of grace is being able to show mercy to yourself.  I’m fully committed.  I’m in it.

And that is goodness.

A hard day’s work and a chilly winter night bring a craving for something comforting.  In this case comfort came calling in the form of pizza.  Goodness, Grace and a couple of guest team members – friends Ariel and Judy of the blog JudyLiCious – trekked down to the West Village for a cozy night at the popular pizzeria Keste Pizza & Vino.

We arrived cold, hungry and ready to feast!  The Fresca Insalate kicked off our evening, a beautiful arugula salad perfectly balanced with grape tomatoes, parmesan shavings and balsamic vinegar.

Keste bills itself as an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria (Naples is the birthplace of pizza), so we rolled up our sleeves and dug into a trio of pies.

Margherita:  A taste of pizza perfection.  Fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and basil lay on top of expertly cooked pillows of dough.

Funghi: A variation on the margherita, with fresh mushrooms added.

Pizza del Pappa: The combination of a unique butternut squash cream, tangy artichokes and sweet peppers all artfully melded together with smoked mozzarella. Heavenly.

The ideal way to end such a perfect comfort meal?  Nutella pizza.  It doesn’t get better than that, people.

Looking for dough-y comfort?  Get yourself to Keste.  Now.  It’s goodness at its yummiest!!

(Photographs courtesy of JudyLiCious.com)

Keste Pizza & Vino
271 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
http://www.kestepizzeria.com.

Okay.

I only meant to have one spoonful.  Cross my heart.

It didn’t really work out that way, though.

Nutella joy – brought on by the chocolate-hazelnut paste created by Italian geniuses – is unlike any other kind.  It’s pure pleasure, the essence of the goodness in life.  My friend Deb gave me my first jar years ago after I’d stayed with her one weekend.  I didn’t open it right away; for some reason, I felt unsure about trying it.  When I did, I dipped a tentative pinkie into the pool of chocolate.

It was love at first taste.  The pinkie dip turned into two-fingered spoonfuls, as I ate the paste with unabashed abandon.

I’d found a new love.

Since that fateful day, I’ve had Nutella in many ways: in crepes, in fried ravioli, in a calzone.  But my favorite way to indulge is in its purest form, by the spoonful.

So what if I ate half the jar?  My belly is joyful.

Check it out for yourself:  www.nutellausa.com

My holiday staycation is drawing to an end.  The days have been filled with family, food, movies and shopping.  It’s been loads of fun with lots of laughter.

But today is all about me.

Or at least what I’m not doing.  No going out, no crowds, no people, no responsibilities.  Just a gloriously simple day where I don’t have to do anything.

It’s a perfectly lazy winter afternoon full of small pleasures.  Magazines, yummy reheated leftover nachos, a reality show marathon.  Flurries are falling outside, but I’m all snuggly and warm inside my toasty apartment…and still in my PJs.

You must excuse me now.  It’s time for my nap.

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