Keep on Hoping – The Oscars

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Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

No matter your age, keep on hoping. It might have been easier to be a starry-eyed dreamer when we were younger but as we get older and wiser, we calculate more and hope less. Hopeless is not a good compound word! I like hopeful better. Don’t you?

This month, my post highlights movies about inspirational people who give us the impetus to hope and put that hope in action. Next month, my post will highlight the artists who have touched our lives with their music.

In life, awards are given and achievements met but most importantly is the journey, the learning and the work. Sometimes the work is honored with an Academy Award.

I’m delighted that this year we were offered films centered around real people whose true story not only affect us but show us the value of love, encouragement and perseverance to conquer the odds. These Oscar nominated movies are “The Theory of Everything,” “Unbroken,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma” and “Wild.”

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The Theory of Everything

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Stephen Hawkings was a professor, mathematician and a proclaimed unbeliever in God who was given only two years to live when he was diagnosed with ALS. With the love, hope and dedication of his wife, he lived a long and productive life. In his later years he professed to knowing the mind of God.

“Where there is life, there is hope.” – Stephen Hawkings

I believe a good movie should spark your imagination. How did the universe start? Stephen Hawkings searches for this answer. As I reflected on Mr. Hawkings theory, I came up with my own theory: In the beginning, in the  darkness were particles of light, God. Within that light was the hope of God to create and expand the light. We are part of this process, evolution and hope.

“The Theory of Everything” is nominated for Best Picture and the two stars, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are also nominated for their honest and stellar portrayals.

Unbroken

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Angelina Jolie directs the story of Louis Zamperini, who thanks to the  encouragement of his brother became a USA Olympian. Louis served in World War II and when his bomber plane was shot down, he survived on a raft for 47 days and the perils of being a prisoner of war. Louis, later forgave his war-time captor and in 1998, he took part in the Olympic Torch relay at the Olympic Games. The movie touches on the root of Louis’s strength in hope, a deep Christian faith, and ends with a feeling of victory.

“Unbroken” received two Academy Award nominations.

The Imitation Game

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The Imitation Game is a historical thriller about Alan Turing who tries to crack the enigma code during World War  II.  The war was not the only place where the cruelties of humanity were endured. During that time, Mr. Turing was convicted of indecency because of his homosexuality. Instead of doing jail time, he undergoes the harsh procedure of chemical castration so he can continue his work in the hope of saving lives.

“The Imitation Game” is nominated for eight Academy Award including Benedict Cumberbatch for leading actor, and Kiera Knightley for supporting actress.

Selma

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Every year Martin Luther King day is celebrated which gives us an occasion to reflect on his life, speeches, hopes and civil rights. Selma is a drama about the struggles and hopes during that time in history and gives us another opportunity to contemplate the perils of unjustified prejudice.

“Selma” is nominated for two Oscar nominations in the category of best picture and best original song.

Wild

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Academy Award winning actress, Reece Witherspoon portrays Cheryl Strayed and her journey of self-discovery while on a 1,100-mile hike along the beautiful but rugged Pacific Crest Trail. Although part of her wants to quit, she moves forward in freedom, bravery, vulnerability and hope. The journey helps her to leave behind the struggles of her past and move-on into her future.

Both Reece Witherspoon (best actress) and Laura Dern (best supporting actress) are nominated for Academy Awards for their work in “Wild.”

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The light of encouragement comes in many forms like a smile, a hug or kindness. Sometimes nature can rekindle my hope and be a place of self-discovery. Sometimes I even find it at the movies! :-)

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Oscar Trivia

To get you ready for the Academy Awards, I thought you might like to know a little about the history of the Oscar. Here’s a walk down memory lane to 1975 with Bob Hope as the Master of Ceremony. Bob Hope has hosted the Academy Awards nineteen times, more than any other host to date.

While viewing this YouTube, it made me reminisce. In 1974, my sister and I, Alberici Sisters, toured with Bob Hope in the singing and dancing girl group, The Golddiggers. It was an exciting time in showbiz and we had quite a journey performing with icons like the real members of the Rat Pack. The groovy 70’s comes alive in our book filled with true anecdotes of fun, hope and entertainment. Beyond Our Wildest Dreams is selling on Amazon.

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Bob Hope and The Golddiggers tour in 1974! Pictured clockwise: Linda (Alberici) Eichberg, Wendy Kimball, Bob Hope, Maria (Alberici) Lauren, Patti Gribow, Peggy Gohl

See you at the Oscars!

Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerThis blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. This information is not meant to take the place of a physician. All content is copyrighted.

Reach up, Hang on, Let go!

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Maria Lauren – Your Powerful LIFE blog

This is the time to reach up into the future so I reach up to the Lord for renewal. Life can zap my energy so I hang on. A winter cold invades my body so I let go and let God. Time to remember my New Year resolution to live in love and that starts with me. It is also a time to remember my A, B, C’s: Act, Believe, Commit.  

This is my cue to go to my room, draw the blinds, put on the humidifier and that face mask I’ve been meaning to try, turn on my favorite mood music, lie down with a heating pad on my back, shut my eyes, breathe deeply and rest. Ahhhh…!

“Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11: 28

During this time of letting go, I listen to Relax-n-Renew. The soothing music, beautiful visualizations and positive affirmations help my body, mind and spirit begin to heal.  Each visualization starts with a little bible verse to begin my  meditation journey as I contemplate on my A B C’s: Accepting Blissful Connection.

“Heal me, Oh Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved: for you are the one I praise.” ~ Jeremiah 17: 14

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” ~ Henry Ellis

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Resolutions for a Healthy Lifestyle

Resolutions for the New Year, usually consist of letting go of bad habits and holding on to good habits. Of course, I also join everyone in their resolution to lose a few pounds but that’s another subject that my daughter Marianna Riccio addresses here:

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Marianna Riccio

“So suffice to say, everyone’s New Year resolution, or at least one of them predominantly always includes changes for a “healthier lifestyle” and “slimmer, more toned physique” or simply (you guessed it) “Losing Weight!!” Come on, you know you’ve said it.  However, March comes along and usually people have forgotten this inevitable New Year’s resolution. Therefore, make a simple choice in your life. “Be strong to live long.”

Start with a new type of class. Don’t do the same sort of exercise or strength training for your body everyday. This is a big no, no!!! It is important to shock the body! Try something new. For example, I have a new-found love for Pole Fitness taught by actress, Arloa Reston. Even my mom tried a class! Pole dancing sometimes can have a negative connotation, but it is actually quite beautiful, graceful, and you have to be strong! Lots of core work is involved in this training and muscles that you never thought you had are given a good workout.

Pole Fitness is being considered to be a respectable Olympic Sport!

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Marianna Riccio – Pole Fitness Dance

More Health and Fitness tips: Remember, don’t forget to hydrate. Water flushes out toxins. I start every morning with hot water and lemon or a detox tea. Think about it, you’ve been sleeping for about eight hours and you have deprived yourself of water! So drink up and flush out! It makes your complexion radiant too.

Eat Breakfast! Please! I can’t stress this enough. Breakfast will make you lose weight. Period! No, don’t have a sausage and egg breakfast with a side of pancakes every day. That is a nice treat once in a while, (maybe) but rather, you should have other healthier options. They will make you less likely to crave “junkie munchies”  later in the day and keep you satisfied. Some of these options are, but are not limited to: whole grains, such as cereal or oatmeal that are high in fiber and low in sugar;  a protein shake with a frozen banana blended for instant energy, an egg (or two) over easy or poached with avocado and salsa. Don’t be afraid of the yolk. It has iron. :-) Another option is Greek Yogurt with low-fat granola, raw almonds, and blueberries. For healthy fats, spread extra virgin coconut oil on your toast, Ghee grass-fed butter or almond butter with an apple. I usually eat three break breakfasts, especially if I take a workout class. Before a workout, I will have either a protein shake, fresh juice, Greek yogurt, or my favorite: bulletproof coffee! It’s amazing! Then I will have Ezekiel bread with extra virgin coconut oil and this amazing fig and prune spread (Mother’s recipe) that is fiber heavy.

Get creative for a happy healthy new year!” ~ Marianna Riccio

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Thank you Marianna for these healthy living tips, some new and some passed on by me to you! We learn from each other. Nice. If you would like more ideas about healthy living from Marianna check out: How to get a Thin Waist but Keep Your Curves.

Below are the recipes for my Figgy Prune Spread and Cold Remedy Recipe:

Raw Figgy Prune Spread

  • Cup of dried prunes, pitless and unsulphured
  • Cup of dried figs, unsulphured 
  • 1/2 of  organic lemon skin, organic orange skin is optional
  • Teaspoon of honey or agave syrup
  • Spices: cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, clove, pumpkin pie spices as desired
  • Flavor extracts: 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla

Prepare at least 24 to 48 hours before serving. Clip the tips off the figs. Soak the prunes and figs in pure water to barely cover the fruit. At this time, chop the lemon skin in tiny pieces and soak in the honey and/or agave syrup in an other bowl. Refrigerate.

After a day or two, the fruit should be tender. Put the fruit with its juice, honey/syrup, vanilla, spices in to a mini-cuisinart. The juice should only fill half of the mixture. Pulse until it is a creamy spread with tiny chunks. It’s delicious on your morning toast!

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Cold Remedy Recipe

(Hope you can handle garlic and your not a Vampire!) :-)

  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic * Garlic is proven to be helpful to the immune system and it is a powerful antibiotic.
  • 1 tablespoon of honey * Honey is an anti-bacterial that relieves irritations of the throat and it soothes coughs.
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil * Olive Oil contains anti-inflammatory benefits and is soothing to the throat and mouth.
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper and ginger as desired * Cayenne Pepper is a circulatory stimulant, it breaks-up mucus congestion and has anti-irritant properties. * Studies show that Ginger relieves nausea, muscle pain, migraines and asthma symptoms.

Using a garlic press, squeeze garlic into a cup for dipping. Add other ingredients and stir with a spoon. Spread this tasty and medicinal mixture on some healthy toast and eat it through out the day. I like it with a hot steamy soup made with an onion base.

In between meals, make yourself some hot herbal tea with honey and lemon. Stay warm. Stay home. Feel better.

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It was sweet of my daughter to give me the gift of fitness with an introduction to the athleticism of Pole Exercise. She tries to keep me hip! It was interesting to learn that the skin helps to grip the body to the pole. I must admit that it is a quite a workout! After about two months of training, Marianna beautifully demonstrates a few moves on the Pole. After two classes, I add a comic effect to the finale! Enjoy our YouTube.


Wishing you a healthy and happy 2015! May the ever-present strength of God be with you this new year.

“He shall set me up upon a rock.” ~ Psalms 27: 5

“Feet supported by the foundation of the past, bending into life and reaching into the future.” ~ Maria Lauren

Blessings,

Maria Lauren, a.k.a. Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

maria-elena-lauren-alberici-riccio-fitness-you-got-the-power-motivationThis blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. This information is not meant to take the place of a physician. All content is copyrighted.

Maria’s Website        Marianna’s Website

Holiday Gifts Everyday

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Your gifts are powerful!

Gifts have power. A gift exchange can make the receiver feel special in so many different ways. A gift is not just a material gesture. Your talents and all that make up the total you is a gift. What are your gifts?

Wrapping-up this year with a bow of gratitude and thinking of the gifts in your life is a wonderful way to end the year.

I’m remembering the gifts of family. We’re not always picture perfect or always happy but we love each other. I’m remembering the gift of friends. Their unique gift of themselves gives my life a variety of color. I’m remembering the gift of work and all my co-workers at Kaiser Permanente with whom I share a unity of purpose. Most of all, I’m remembering the gift of Christ’s love and the gifts that encompass me and my LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

My daughter Marianna started the Holidays with the gift of going to the theater to see “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” at the Geffen Playhouse. Irving Berlin made a mark in music history as a great American composer who wrote clever lyrics and catchy melodies. Some of his songs are “Happy Holidays” and the musical comedy, “Annie Get Your Gun.”

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Critic’s Choice! A “remarkable portrait … richly entertaining and ultimately touching.” Los Angeles Times

Hershey Felder is a talented pianist, singer and story-teller. He urged the audience of mostly mature adults/seniors to sing along but even my daughter in her twenties knew most of the songs too!

I’d like to share what my daughter, Marianna Riccio wrote on her Facebook page about this theatrical experience…

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Marianna Riccio

“I so enjoyed seeing the Irving Berlin one-man show at the Geffen playhouse. What extraordinary talents Mr. Fletcher showed as a musician and actor! Being an artist myself, it was inspirational to learn of how his legendary songs came to be; the story behind why he wrote them, etc. For example, can you believe ” God Bless America” was snubbed and put back in his book of unsung songs? A secretary was like “Mr. Berlin, not another corny patriotic song.” However, when it did come out, he gave his proceeds to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

Also, who would’ve thought that the song, “White Christmas” was written about Irving Berlin’s baby son who had died overnight on Christmas in his sleep. He also dedicated this song to the American soldiers who missed their families during tremulous times of war and wanted to come back home. They were dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones they used to know.

May you feel the blessings of the holiday season your whole year through in 2015 and always.” -Marianna Riccio

Thank you Marianna for sharing. You are a special gift to daddy and I. I’m also thinking of our soldiers away from their homes with sadness but appreciation for their service. Music is another gift of which I am grateful; it brings me much joy. The life and music of Irving Berlin is an inspiration and this show is a fitting tribute to the memory of this American treasure. 

The Holidays is a time for Life Reflections. Remember to be open to gifts and to share your gifts in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Maria Lauren, (aka) Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

“Your Powerful LIFE” blog

Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerThis blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

 

My Website

Marianna’s Website

Dancing With The Stars, family and friends for health!

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Dance Styles and Exercise Forms – Pictured: Alberici Sister, The Golddiggers, Maria Lauren, Marianna Riccio

When the music starts, my body starts moving whether I am sitting down, laying down or standing up. It’s a natural response. Isn’t it? The human body was made to move so it makes sense that dancing is beneficial for your body, mind and spirit.

It’s no wonder that I am a fan of the television show, “Dancing With The Stars.” The show is not only entertaining but it’s inspirational too. Dancing is a wonderful way to exercise and express pent-up emotions. This aerobic activity is therapeutic for releasing stress and helps to keep your cardiovascular system, muscles, bones and brain healthy, especially as we age.

“Dancing was the only physical activity associated with lower risk of dementia.”New England Journal of Medicine, Published in 2003

A 21-year study of senior citizens was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and funded by the National Institute on Aging. The study wanted to see if regularly practiced physical or cognitive activities (thinking, reasoning, remembering) influenced mental capabilities.

The results in short, for a reduced risk of dementia was as follows:

Reading – 35%, Cross-word puzzles – 47%, Dancing – 76%

Dancing had the greatest risk reduction of the activities studied, cognitive or physical.

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DANCING WITH THE STARS

A big thank you to “Dancing With The Stars” for motivating people to dance! Personally, it’s been a joy for me to tune into the competition since it’s first USA airing in 2005.

Congratulations to this years 2014 winner of “Dancing With The Stars,” Alfonso Ribeiro of “Prince of Bel Air” fame and his teacher, the beautiful Witney Carson of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame!

Here’s a clip of them doing the “Carlton Dance!” :-)

VARIETY ENTERTAINMENT: TELEVISION & STAGE

I enjoy doing the many dance styles that were the craze throughout the ages but I am not a dance pro by no means, I’m a singer who loves to dance!

This led me into the group, The Golddiggers of  “The Dean Martin Comedy Hour” and Las Vegas, “Showstoppers.” It was a pleasure to put on some glamour and nostalgia to perform with these ladies, my friends. Below you’ll see what I mean. Also included is a short snippet of my daughter Marianna Riccio and I being interviewed by Larry King.

EPIC DISCO MOVIE: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

In 1977, the release of the movie, “Saturday Night Fever” brought disco dancing to the forefront and the moves of John Travolta. Disco, the mirror ball light and the coveted mirror ball trophy of “Dancing With The Stars” still represents the best in dancing today.

This past Halloween, my daughter Marianna and I had a small dress-up party and got retro leading some disco moves. We break the steps down on this home video. We’re starting from the ground up!

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Dance is great aerobic exercise and the best thing about dancing is you don’t even realize your exercising because it’s lots of  fun!

Find freedom in the dance,

Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

* Want to read more about “Dancing” and “Dancing With The Stars?” Then, check out my past posts: Dance Party! and Up Close: Dancing With The Stars.

Beyond-Our-Wildest-Dreams-bookIf you’re interested in the rise and fall of the “Television Variety Show” and celebrity icons of the 70’s, you’ll enjoy the book, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams written by myself and my sister, Linda (Alberici Sisters from The Dean Martin Goldiggers), with backstage stories told by those who were there!

 

My Website

Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerThis is a blog about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. It is produced in my own time and solely reflects my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

The Comfort Tree, meditation

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The Comfort Tree by Maria Lauren

A PICTURE MEDITATION FOR YOU TO VISUALIZE…

As you gaze into the picture, imagine taking a seat under The Comfort Tree. A chair is waiting for you.  Relax. Take off your shoes and feel the grass in between your toes. Feel a soft breeze caress your shoulders. Listen to the gentle fluttering of the leaves. Are there birds singing close-by?

Who will sit under The Comfort Tree with you? I find comfort sitting next to the nurturing and compassionate spirit of my loving God (a.k.a. the Comforter, Creator, Jesus, Savior).

Take some time for yourself when you feel overwhelmed. It’s just not computers that get overloaded and melt-down, I know that all too well. Remember the power of prayer.

“You may be in a situation that feels hopeless, but God still has a plan. He can bring greatness out of a great mess.” - Joel Osteen 

A BREATHING MEDITATION FOR YOU TO VISUALIZE…

Relax-n-Renew by breathing slowly and deeply. Inhale through your nose and focus on the oxygen comforting you as it travels through your lungs to enter your diaphragm, the navel area. Exhale and feel the oxygen take your tension away.

“Sit and rest under The Comfort Tree with me. My hand on yours, just relax and be. My angels soothe you, massage you with love as we sit under The Comfort Tree sharing a cup of serenity.” – Maria Lauren, a.k.a. Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Remind yourself to smile. It feels so good and it is an instant face-lift too! Thank you for allowing me to share these feel-good remedies. I needed the reminders. ;-)

Counting blessings,

Maria Lauren, (aka) Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

My Website

Maria-Lauren-Alberici-RiccioThis is a blog about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. It is produced in my own time and solely reflects my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.