A Cool Mona Recipe: A Down Under Cactus (With Tequila, Of Course)

I can't get to australia so I drink these

I can’t get to australia so I drink these

I borrowed this beautiful recipe from Diana Novak, National Director of Craft Spirits Education and Mixology for Palm Bay International and Chicago Cocktail Kitchen.

Here you go:



  • 1 oz Blanco Tequila http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H6amDbAwlY
  • 3/4 oz Los Amantes Mezcal Reposado
  • 1/2 oz. of pear syrup*
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
  • 1/2 of a kiwi, muddled or pureed*
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice (fresh, please)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice (fresh, please)


  • Combine ingredients in shaker over ice
  • Shake vigorously
  • Strain into large coupe glass
  • Garnish with kiwi slice
  • Call me

*The pear syrup was made using BOSC organic pears and allowed to set for 24 hours with maceration of the pears before using in the cocktail.

*The kiwi, if ripe, can be muddled rather than creating a puree, although if making in volume the puree may be a bit easier and more cost effective overall.

Hey, thanks, Diana!

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Life as a Doormat And Why I Want To Stay One (Part 2)

feeding her horse - portugal

feeding her horse – portugal

Like I said yesterday, welcome mats can be really pretty and colorful but they’re still doormats. Which is what I am and which feels pretty bad. Before you read below, catch up on yesterday’s post or else you won’t know who Crazy Horse is. http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8649

Being a doormat means we’re in an unbalanced relationship. Like Crazy Horse and Frank. Although Frank’s patience and tolerance seems to come from a deep love, it’s really based on fear. Like fear of anger, fear of conflict, of losing control, of emotional abandonment. When we’re a doormat, we give passive responses to aggressive attacks.

Brene Brown writes about ORC and says that both of these – passive responses, aggressive attacks – fall into this category. ORC = behavior that’s opaque, reactive and closed.

Opaque means that we hide – even from ourselves – the actual reasons that drive such behavior. Like Lucy, my bud, who picks up her 28-year-old’s dirty dishes, glasses, shoes, etc. Lucy is really afraid to be by herself and fears that her daughter will move out if things at home aren’t good enough. (This is where I take a long pull from the afternoon marg that I’m nursing.) Opaque = purely reactive behavior. It separates us from our real selves. We react on we think others will think, do, say.

There are about 6 “levels” of ORC and if you think you don’t ever go into ORC mode, I‘d be delighted to prove you wrong. Think of the levels as flags, like at the beach and the different colors represent the level of danger.

Disturbed: You easily brush aside your feelings and continue your nice, polite behavior.

Displaced: You appear cooperative around the offender, still pushing away resistant feelings but now fussing grumpily to yourself or to others.

Hurt: You may actually increase niceness to hide the fact that you’re feeling seriously wronged. Anger seeps out passive-aggressively – a snippy question, a slammed drawer.

Resentful: The offender’s misdeeds begin to occupy more and more of your attention. Kvetching about her becomes a daily pastime. You begin to shoot her angry looks while claiming that absolutely nothing is wrong.

Seething: The offender’s bad behavior becomes a central feature of your thinking. You complain constantly to others, and despite continued “niceness”, try to undermine her with passive aggressive strategies like the silent treatment, backhanded compliments and gossip.

Homicidal: You daydream about thrashing the offender in a cage fight. You have knots in your stomach and you can’t sleep. You’re irritable or depressed. You may occasionally lash out at loved ones in what appears to be irrational rage. Toward the offender, however, you still act nice and polite.

Cool Mona Note: Moving out of ORC territory takes courage and stamina and most days I don’t have it. More tomorrow.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUwm4w0mp1k

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Being A Welcome Mat Is Still Being A Doormat

follow me

follow me

As far as I know, there are no DA meetings in my area. Doormats Anonymous. I could probably lead the meeting and fill it with an assortment of friends and acquaintances.

I remind myself that being a doormat is not necessarily the worst thing in life. Doormats are colorful, they’re seasonal and they provide a bright and cheery greeting – Welcome! – as people wipe their feet on me.

And if I can’t see it in myself – being a doormat and all – then I can easily see it in others.

Like my bud, Lucy. Who picks up every used plate, glass and soiled napkin after her 28-year-old daughter is through with them. Like Karla and Bob, whose relationship was built on a lot of give and take. Karla giving lots of back rubs, special dinners and encouraging words and Rob taking it all. Like Frank and his demonic Chihuahua, Crazy Horse, who would snarl and growl and bite anyone who came remotely near Frank. The owner never sank to Crazy Horse’s level by reprimanding or punishing, he just showered CH with love.

All of these dear and lovely people took what they thought was the high road and the people around them responded just like a crazy Chihuahua. They exploited the hell out of them.

Since I’m feeling sure that you are also dear and lovely, you’ll look around about now and ask what’s wrong with taking the high road. The problem is that trying to change unfair behavior with submissive niceness is like trying to smother a fire with gunpowder. It isn’t actually the high road. It’s a grim, familiar path that leads from aggressive to passive, through long, horrible stretches of passive-aggressive. The real high road requires something else – the courage to know and follow your own truth. So if someone in your life – have you started writing the list? – is exploiting your goodwill and courtesy, keep reading. We’re going to figure this out.

Cool Mona Note: More tomorrow on ORC relationships. What they are and how to get one. Hint: Opaque, reactive and closed.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9VoLCO-d6U&list=PL_jrKrBTmTmCGTsebdJCxGgjt2gL3XAhA


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A Cool Mona Book Review: Redeployment

Marg_5 iconRedeployment by Phil Klay, published 2014. Winner of the National Book Award and listed on the 2014 Top 10 List of The New York Times. A collection of 12 stories sharing the absurdities – some even humorous – of war: before, during and after. It’s an uncomfortable read but a necessary one as we all try to make sense of this war of our own generation. It’s brutal and crude and we try our best to understand what they have gone through. The military acronyms are heavily used by the author and so I sometimes don’t easily get the whole picture. MRAPA. MRE. BOS. SITREP. HUMINT.

A Marine returns home and learns patience as he explains again and again where Fallujah is.

A well-intended Congressman ships over children’s baseball uniforms with bats, balls and gloves. No marine working behind the wire wants any part of this absurd task – teaching Iraqi kids how to play the game. These are the same kids, these 8 – 12 year olds, who plant IEDs on the road, hoping to kill a GI Joe or two.

Wanting to be one of the guys, a stationary marine follows a platoon beyond the wire. After a fire fight, he watches an insurgent die through night goggles. It’s a white spot that gets smaller and smaller as the insurgent’s energy fades away.

The father of a Marine shows utter disgust as his son tells how he baits insurgents.

And then there’s the chaplain, lovingly called Chaps, who doesn’t really know how to help except to say that we are part of a long tradition of suffering. We can let it isolate us if we want, but we must realize that isolation is a lie. Consider that Iraqi father and that American father. Consider their children. Do not suffer alone. Offer suffering up to God, respect your fellow man and perhaps the sheer awfulness of this place will become a little more tolerable.

The author is a U.S. Marine Corps vet – a Public Affairs Officer – having served in Iraq’s Anbar Province during the surge. He’s also a Dartmouth graduate and an MFA recipient from Hunter College. In the Cool Mona rating system, I give it 5 margaritas and quote from Second Timothy: I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

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Cool Mona Q & A: Can Adults Be Bullies?

Cool Mona Q&A

Question: Dear Mona, What do you call adults who bully? And how do you know it's really bullying? Rachel


Dear Rachel…

Mmmm…bullies. Adults who bully are exactly that, bullies. Except adults are more like mean girls, snarky girls than actual bullies. Adults know that they can’t get away with bad behavior everyone sees and so they become clever and cute and funny with their put-downs. And it still stings.

Examples of mean girls as adults could be:

Intense bragging from Snarky Girl about her child who exceeds in academics. The bragging doesn’t start until there’s an audience because she knows your child hopes for C’s. She will abruptly stop herself in mid sentence and say “Oops, sorry, Rachel”.

You’re in a neighborhood book group that meets at a scheduled time and date. You’re there each and every time, on time. Mean Girl continuously shows up with flavored coffees for everyone but you. Excuses will be 1) I thought you were out of town, 2) I could only carry 4, 3) They were out of that tea you like.

Mean girls can be in your own family. Like at a gathering, the coordinator has asked everyone to bring something but you. She insists that she has everything covered. But when you arrive, the other guests are complimenting each other over their dishes and recipes, and there you stand. Bullying? No. Mean and snarky? Yes.

In a work situation, it’s a little trickier and the clues are more subtle. Mean girls are smart, too smart to get caught being out front. In your private life, you can walk away, find a new group. But in a work group, you’ll have to tough it out until a new project comes your way.

Mean girls may make you feel uncomfortable and left out but they will not make you feel afraid. So if you get feelings of fear, you’ll need help from someone other than me who can prevent the situation from getting out of control. People are weird so don’t take this kind of stuff lightly.

There are wonderfully kind and loving people out there and I know you can find them. They’re probably looking for you, too.






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How To Mend A Broken Heart (It May Feel Impossible, But You Can Make It Through)

walk on

walk on

Iyanla Vanzant, caring and inspirational writer, shares some wisdom on how to mend a broken heart.

It may feel impossible, but you can make it through.

When we’re in a relationship, We tend to think of ourselves as passive observers. We forget that we are active participants. So when things go awry, we make the cause external. He hurt me; this happened to me; my heart was broken. But broken hearts happen through us, not to us. They’re the result of how we make sense of what has unfolded.

So, good news, bad news. If your heart is broken, here is the good news.  People can correct or heal what they are ready to acknowledge, accept and release, and you don’t need anyone else to mend your broken heart. But here is the not-so-good news. People can correct or heal only what they are ready to acknowledge, accept and release—and no one else can mend your broken heart.

So while it may feel as though the other person holds the key to feeling better, the truth is that you do not need his or her presence, input or permission to heal your own broken heart. You are responsible for yourself. Which means you have work to do.

1.  Become aware of the heart of your hurt. Ask yourself what you needed and did not get, what you wanted and did not ask for, what you knew but chose to ignore.

2.  Choose to feel better. Say to yourself: I want to be more loving in every aspect of my life. Remaining hurt does not make me more loving. Remaining angry does not make me more loving. Insisting that I am right and they are wrong does not make me more loving.

3.  Finally, let it go. Rather than tell yourself again and again the sad story about what happened, get clear about who and how you want to be from now on. Ready yourself to show up to the world in a different way. Chances are that the people involved in your situation are convinced they are right. In fact, you may be the one holding on to that belief. When you feel yourself clinging to this idea, shift! Focus instead on asking for what you need and want that will support you in being the person you now choose to be.

Cool Mona Note: Life’s funny - we never know what’s around the corner. The most wonderful creature you’ve ever encountered may be lying in wait, and for that reason and that reason alone, I say keep your nails done.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4Xb-4v2kuo

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A Cool Mona Book Review: The Art Forger

Marg_5 iconThe Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro, published 2012. Well, actually, she’s an art copyist. Being a copyist has no illegal components, the problems start when you sell the copy as an original and you officially become the forger. Or when you make a copy from what you think is a copy of a world-renown piece of art stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the ‘90s.

Lots of gifted artists out there but this one – Claire Roth – has an eye for it. She sees what the MFAs and the authenticators don’t. She is by no means an interesting character – the usual descriptors are used when describing artists: disheveled, unorganized, financially challenged. Except that she is also a self-taught Degas expert. But even with such impressive skills, they basically get her nowhere which is why she works for Reproductions.com.

The world of forgeries is fascinating: the high-level of talent, the types involved and the reasons why it’s done in the first place. There’s a memorable quote in the book: Only the bad forgeries are known. The good ones are hanging on museum walls. The world of heists is equally as fascinating: the detailed strategies of the theft, the buyers and where the art ends up. Today, stolen masterpieces are mainly used as collateral for drug kings or major arms buyers.

Most rewarding is how the book presents an intelligent look at art forgery. Is black-and-white authenticity paramount or are there acceptable degrees of attribution? It is wonderfully suspenseful and if you have any interest at all in the Impressionists, the process of art making or the lifestyle of an art community, this is a good one for you. In the Cool Mona rating system, I easily give it 5 margaritas.


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Why We Stay Sad

sadness and depression can be debilitating

sadness and depression can be debilitating

Why is it that some of us bounce back from rough times and others of us just get sucked under? Spiritual teacher and author, Deepak Chopra, shows us how to help ourselves and the people we care about.

Happiness has never been a simple matter. What makes us happy as children is much simpler than what makes us happy as adults—and grown-up happiness tends to be bittersweet. You may find someone you deeply love, yet there are always compromises in the relationship, along with arguments, disappointments and tough obstacles for both people. In polls, around 80 % of Americans say that they are happy, but no one has ever discovered what exactly makes someone happy. Like my idea of happiness might make you miserable.

Let’s cut to the most basic questions.

Can you be happy every minute of the day? No. Does romantic love guarantee happiness? Does having a baby? No to both. Is happiness hard work? Most people find it so. Compared to a person’s dream of perfect happiness, these are discouraging answers. But I think the situation contains possibilities and rewards that most of us never suspect. Achieving perfect happiness is possible. It simply requires a major sacrifice: You must give up your assumptions about what will make you happy.

The world’s wisdom traditions, from the Indian Vedas to Buddhism and Christianity, have examined human happiness and unhappiness in depth. The points these traditions make do not fit into our Westernized, capitalistic culture and are not what you’d expect:

1) Pleasure isn’t the same as happiness, and getting more pleasure isn’t what will make you happy.

2) Unhappiness is rooted in not knowing who you really are.

3) Relying on another person’s love to make you happy means that they also have the power to take your happiness away. Even the prospect of this is enough to make happiness feel insecure.

4) Eternal happiness isn’t a matter of finding your way to paradise, but of contacting the bliss that’s a fundamental aspect of pure consciousness. To capture such bliss personally requires some lifestyle adaptations, like:

1) Live close to nature’s rhythms and cycles, especially with regard to getting good sleep and going out into natural beauty on a regular basis.

2) Reduce external stressors, making a serious effort to live and work in a positive environment.

3) Make time every day to relax. Make time every day to play.

4) Let your brain experience the quiet inner state that is the gateway to higher consciousness. Meditation takes you on the inward path, but there are similar traditions and techniques of prayer, contemplation, self-reflection and Hatha Yoga.

5) Limit the toxicity of alcohol, tobacco and adulterated food. Favor a natural, organic diet whenever possible. Drink pure water; breathe pure air.

6) Dedicate your primary relationship to mutual happiness. Work together so that your partner’s happiness feels as fulfilling as your own.

7) Avoid the daily temptations of negativity, such as gossip, dwelling on bad news, venting our anger and impatience and blaming others.

8) Take responsibility for your own happiness.

9) Aim at the highest kind of happiness, which is spiritual and devoid of ego.

10) Enjoy the lifelong project of building a self, because it is the prospect of a fulfilled self that brings satisfaction even in the face of resistance, obstacles and setbacks.

Despite the disappointments you’ve already experienced, happiness is achievable beyond anything you’ve imagined. The secret is to realize that happiness isn’t a mood, it’s the most natural way to feel, something we all knew as children. Life becomes more complex as we grow up, but that fact doesn’t take away our birthright. It just means that we must apply our awareness, getting past the obstacles that hide the underlying happiness that is always there, waiting to be awakened.

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Secret Stressors That Are Affecting You More Than You Know (Part 2)

maybe you shouldn't push so hard

maybe you shouldn’t push so hard

You have a good life, really, but you’re so frazzled. Check out these stressors that you may be completely clueless about.

Catch up on the first 2 here:  http://www.coolmona.com/?p=8552

3.  “But What If It’s…” Long-Shot Health Worries

Symptom: You feel a twinge, and you’re sure it’s nothing. Pretty sure, anyway.
Causes: Between 86 - 95 % of people report a physical symptom -  headache, back pain, rash, bump - in any 2-week period, so say lots of docs to whom I posed question. Most of the time, these aren’t serious and are attributable to ordinary hassles such as stress, poor diet and a lack of sleep or exercise But when some rare case turns out to be life threatening, we all hear about it in detail from the news or our social network. Adding to our encyclopedic knowledge of the ways the body can betray us (thanks, Internet) are the pharmaceutical commercials with their long lists of potential side effects.
Treatment: It can be hard to accept that being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean being symptom-free. If you aren’t satisfied with your doctor’s diagnosis (even if she went to THE best med school), get a second opinion—from the same doctor. It forces her to rethink the situation and also gives you a chance to examine her rationale. Try something like “Can you walk me through how you ruled out that it’s not a brain tumor?” If the bump persists and the anxiety remains, check out a third specialist. (By the way, the chance that you’ll develop a malignant brain tumor in your lifetime is less than 1%. I raise my margarita.)
4.  The Rehash Hangover
Symptom: You can’t stop talking about what happened with your stubborn husband/boss/mother.
Causes: Amanda Rose, assoc. prof of psychological science, U. of Missouri calls this ”co-ruminating“. She finds that we expect to feel better by getting it all off our chest, that often isn’t true. “We’ve seen that there’s a snowball effect where talking about your problems causes you to dwell on them, and dwelling makes you feel depressed, which makes you complain even more,” she says.
Treatment: Rose says the tricky part is that the problems we tend to rehash—relationship snafus, for instance—are inherently difficult to solve (you can’t change other people). Resist unloading on your neighbor or the babysitter, and wait to share the story with someone you trust to give sane advice. Rose says that sometimes changing the topic will be enough to distract you (making conversation is good; it’s overanalyzing problems with others that can get to you). Focus on other people’s stories until you lose interest in your own.
5. Suburban Schlumpiness
Symptom: Life is feeling a little shabby around the edges, but you can’t put your finger on why.
Causes: While the economic forecast for the country as a whole is cautiously not pessimistic, local budgets are still tight. To save money, some cities have cut back on trash pickup and turned off street lamps. Store racks are sparser and “For Sale” signs seem as enduring as the front-yard elms. Indicators like these may not seem significant on their own, but if you’re already worrying about the housing market or job security, signs like these could make you feel that things are only getting worse.
Treatment: Stop feeling helpless. Step one: Figure out what—specifically—has changed to make you feel that life isn’t what it once was. Then attack one of the issues. The next time you’re out for a walk, bring a plastic bag and pick up cans and bottles on the side of the road. When you’re taking care of your garden, trim the overgrown weeds that are making the foreclosed home next door look unkempt. This will give you a sense of control and will restore a bit of that luster you’ve been missing. (Cool Mona Note: Sipping a marg may also help.)


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Secret Stressors That Are Affecting You More Than You Know (Part 1)

free rider

free rider

You have a good life, really, but you’re so frazzled. Check out these stressors that you may be completely clueless about.

1.  Sound Creep
Symptom: You wonder if the world is getting louder or you’re just getting crankier.
Causes: George Prochnik, author of  In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise,  says we feel so negatively affected by noise today because it’s become nearly impossible to escape the din. TVs have surround sound, we talk on mobile phones when walking. Even the nights are noisier. In 1973 FedEx launched expedited delivery and the planes have zoomed overhead through the wee hours.
Treatment: Prochnik recommends a “sound diet” in which you balance annoying noise with silent breaks or healthier sounds. For instance, urban designers in Europe have found that water fountains can make people feel more tranquil. Resist the urge to fight noise with yet more noise (turning the car radio up while surrounded by honking cars), and consider sound-canceling headphones. Sseek out quiet spaces for 10 minutes a day: pocket parks, wooded trails, libraries, cemeteries or an empty room—but one with a good door. (A city planner told Prochnik that even a 5 percent gap in an enclosure will let through 80 percent of the noise.)
2.  Not-Broke Money Anxiety
Symptom: You save, pay your bills, cut back where you can, but there’s still this uneasy sense that you’re not doing enough.
Causes: Many of us have absorbed the message that our financial future is our personal responsibility. But retirement calculators ask questions that seem out of touch with the current economy (“typical annual raise”?) and spit back goals that seem impossible. At the same time, the risks of taking a shortcut and making big mistakes seem way too high.  If you’re saving consistently and retirement is decades away, it’s useless to panic.
Treatment: Make sure you’re putting at least as much in as much in your 401(k) as everyone else.
Cool Mona Note: I have a few more coming tomorrow.


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