This is the kitchen where we talk about food, life, and recovery—a spiritual path to healing and peace.

You are invited to keep coming back to A Cup of Kindness to share your experience, strength and hope; fears, doubts and insecurities; and to pick up information, inspiration … and have a little fun!

My story
In January 2007, at the age of 51, I joined a 12-step program and began my recovery from food addiction, losing 75 pounds in the process. Read more…

In January 2011, at the age of 55, I began my recovery from a multi-trauma accident, 36 fractures, damaged lungs, and post traumatic stress. Read more…

I am deeply grateful for all the kindnesses, large and small, offered to me in recovery. Here I am... alive… still making progress … still not perfect … finding a new way forward in a growing community of women and men who share a lot in common around food and life.

I hope you'll join me in this kitchen and let me know what's cooking with you.

A Cup of Kindness

Open Heart Project


Morning rhythm

Mom and Dad


Thanks to meditation teacher Susan Piver for the question, “What is your ideal morning routine?”

I’m happy to say that my ideal morning routine is my actual morning routine! See the P.S. below for more about it.

On this morning’s walk, more came to me about my morning routine and what I love about it. It’s the rhythm.

My father, Toby Tate, was a jazz musician, my mother, Myra Starkman Tate, is a classical musician. There was a strong emphasis in our home on rhythm, whether it was practicing music in tempo, eating three healthy meals at the same time every day, or cleaning the house once a week.

There was also chaos and confusion in our lives. My dad was predictably unpredictable in his rages. He self-medicated with alcohol, pot and other drugs… which didn’t seem to help as far as I could tell. Even so, I’m very grateful for the rhythm he gave us and for mellowing in his final years.

As a kid, music was a both balm and a source of tension for me.

Listening to my mother sing was transporting. It was glorious… and still is. It’s a gorgeous voice and her singing is filled with artistry.

Listening to my father play introduced me to mystery. Where did that music come from? He had some deep well of musical genius.

For me, practicing scales and learning technique felt plodding and painful at first. I would grimace every time I heard my dad shout from another room, “Slower!!”

My flute teacher, Carl Tucker. seemed to know that life was rough. I would come to my lesson, work a little on the assigned piece and then he would put it all away and we would sight-read Telemann duets. We would play… with feeling… and I could breathe again.

Over time, with repetition of the fundamentals, I began to see that nothing is ever the same, everything changes, there’s both simplicity and complexity in a single tone. I could invest a phrase with feeling. I could improvise within the rhythm. There was always room to play. Eventually, the music sang through me. I have learned again and again that there is joy and freedom in rhythm.

Pondering rhythm, I have Mozart and Charlie Parker, and Carl Tucker, and my dad Toby Tate of blessed memory with me today.

Love & Light,


P.S. I love my mornings! Miranda-the-labradoodle wakes me with a nose bump at 5am on the dot. I wake, pee, brush my teeth, make one cup of coffee with 2 oz unsweetened soy milk, and then poop. I take the dog for a 20 minute walk, saying the Serenity Prayer as we leave the house, and then just walk and experience Nature. We see bunnies, deer, and our neighborhood fox family. I come home and take three 15-minute sponsee calls. (I’m in a 12-step program for food addiction.) Then I make breakfast for my husband and me. Every morning we each have 2 eggs, 3 oz beans, 6 oz cooked veg, 8 oz salad, and 1/2 oz oil. And so the day begins.

7 Comments to Morning rhythm

  1. Theolyn's Gravatar Theolyn
    August 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    You have a wonderful rhythm to your daily routine and your life! I loved your post today! I can relate to so many of the things you mentioned, musically, as you grew up. I find it interesting that many people experience very similar circumstances in their childhood, young person, young adult periods of their lives.
    I, too, enjoy so much my communication with Nature on my early morning walks. In summer, I always walk early and it is completely different from I walk later in the day in other seasons of the year.
    Keep up your writing and your “regular morning routine”.


  2. Melinda's Gravatar Melinda
    August 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Thank you dear one for sharing here ~ always on the lookout to learn from others, collecting bits and pieces to find and refine the rhythm that works for me. Once again, you inspire me.

    In gratitude,

  3. Em's Gravatar Em
    August 5, 2015 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Valerie –

    Thank you for the evocative descriptions of your unique family life. It’s interesting, I seem to perceive so little in the way of rhythms in my own childhood … it’s the emotional chaos I’ve always remembered. But now I realize my mother had found a measure of serenity in her own routines, especially her morning routine: waking up early while we were all still asleep, walking through the quiet house as the dark turned to light, having her own time to read or write, and prayer for her family … my brother is certain it was those prayers that brought him home safe from Vietnam.

    Motherhood brought its own rhythms for me, but nothing I would describe as a life practice. Working gave shape and form to my days after my son was grown, but again, rhythm? I’d say it was coming into my 12-step practice that has helped me find a life rhythm … the weighed and measured life.

    And by the way, speaking of morning routines, as much as I get from my morning calls, I have to say having this time in the tropics to just sleep, eat, and hang out, letting my body wake up when it’s ready (or the heat demands it!) has been a wonderful and much-needed reboot.

    Looking forward to connecting again next week!

    – Em

    PS, amazing picture. Your parents?

  4. Rachel Stein's Gravatar Rachel Stein
    August 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink


    I’ve missed you and your amazing, insightful posts!!! I love your morning routine and am currently striving to make one of my own rather than flying around the apartment racing to get into the car to get to work on time.

    Tomorrow I commit to getting up at 6:30am and going for a 45 minute walk. I will experience the nature that surrounds me and breathe in all that is good in my life.

    Thank you Valerie for your constant source of encouragement.



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