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The Art and Science of Healthy Living

Born of immigrant parents and raised in Brooklyn, I spent my formative years in the public schools, libraries, parks, and beaches of New York. Thank you, Robert Moses, especially for Jones Beach. Torn between my love of art and that for science, I opted for art and went to Pratt Institute for my BA in advertising design and visual communication. While at Pratt, I modeled for a couple years to support myself, and learned it’s possible for tedium and glamour to exist in the same moment.

I fell in love with a Swiss man (ah, mi amore primavera) and lived in Bern in a 14th century building near the river Aare for two years. I taught English, and learned it’s possible to incorporate Beatles lyrics into a curriculum without getting fired. I returned home and eventually found a job as assistant editor at McCall’s Needlework & Crafts. My life was filled with lush woven rugs, macramé dog leashes, and needlepoint greeting cards. My next job was as illustrator for Tree Communications, a book producer (“packager” in those days). This job morphed into an editorial one, and I helped create the 24-volume Family Creative Workshop for Time, Inc. I morphed into managing editor and oversaw the production of a wide array of books from “Hardcore Crafts” to "Plastic Surgery" to “Real Food!” to “The Green Pages.”

After three years at Tree, I turned to the freelance life, and began my slow dance back to science. In this case, science included books on contact lenses, fitness, cancer treatment, vitamin supplements, weight loss, women’s health, complementary medicine, and childhood asthma. During this time, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I’d be lying if I said this brush with mortality didn’t accelerate my fascination with science towards a focus on the practicalities of healthy living, suffused with a desire to squeeze enjoyment out of every waking moment.

Quality of life issues propelled me out of New York and into San Francisco. I found a dream job as creative editor for Krames Communications, publisher of patient information brochures. What a neat vacation. But all vacations must end and, tired of the foggy life, I now live in New York City once again, in a fabulous, leafy, village-like neighborhood called Washington Heights (aka “upstate Manhattan”). Thank you Jane Jacobs for elevating neighborhoods in our consciousness.

I’ve acquired a master’s degree in urban public health with a specialty in community health education from Hunter College/City University of New York. I've been consulting with a variety of community organizations and city agencies and I continue to write. But what really excites me is the notion of influencing park design to be more fitness-friendly for people of all ages and incomes, and creating physical activity programs in parks. To feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin, to smell the leaves and flowers, see the green and blue and every color imaginable, to hear the birds and feel the pleasure and freedom of moving my body . . . and then bringing these health-building sensations to other people.

Awaiting my mojito - Oakland's Lake Merritt, 2010

I have traveled across the US and parts of Canada, most of Western Europe, Australia, and Russia. During my annual trip to the Netherlands to visit my Dutch relatives I marvel at the quality of life, the bicycle paths and natural walking trails that are everywhere, linking countryside, cities and towns.

In my travels both local and global, I’ve discovered that human beings of all ages, abilities, cultures, and incomes have something in common. Most of us like to feel good and look our best. And over the long run, we tend not to do things that are unpleasant -- no matter how “good for us” they are supposed to be. In the quest for a healthy life, let’s not forget pleasure and beauty.

Snacking alfresco in Holland, 2009.