Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Balance

Before I begin looking at the possibilities of a new year, I like to consider what was learned during the past year. The year began with my annual declaration of word or theme for the year. Balance has been the word that followed me through my ups, my downs, and everything in between. Balance changes from moment to moment, so in order to maintain balance, one must constantly shift and refocus. Here’s a look back on how I brought balance to the forefront this year?

With each theme I seem to become the word, or does the word become me? When the year ends, I find the word carries strength within me as I move forward from year to year. It is always there as a gentle reminder of who I intend to be. With that being said, I think Grateful for Being sums up my year of Balance.

I wish you peace and love in the New Year ...
I (heart) balancing rocks photo courtesy of James Jordan

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Kid’s Table

When gathering with family and friends to share a meal during the holidays, it’s not always easy trying to seat everyone at the same table. When I was a kid, there was a designated table for the children. This allowed adults to gather together in a semblance of peace. Mind you, the children’s table was not far.

At the children’s table we were able to chitter-chatter, make funny noises - as long as they weren’t loud enough for the adults to hear, and just be ourselves. Thinking about that now, those children, sitting at their designated table, did not have to deal with the magnitude of life adults deal with. Life was simple and straightforward at this table. We weren’t thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. It was all about now.

Sit at the kid’s table for a change this holiday season. If your request is denied, be as if you were sitting at the kid’s table. Go ahead, chitter-chatter, make funny noises and just be you. Don’t think about the problems of yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Immerse yourself in the conversations around you even if you could care less; hug people you have not seen in a long time and those you have never met. Learn how to play a silly game and enjoy it. Celebrate and join in the fun. Find your inner kid this holiday season and sit yourself down at the kid’s table.
Kids at the kids table photo courtesy of madgerly

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I’ve Got This

I had moved past the anger issues I felt when my abdominal surgery was scheduled. I went on a lovely European vacation and did not waste a moment on anger. In the days before the surgery, I informed my nearest and dearest as to what was going on. I asked them to send their wonderful, powerful thoughts and prayers my way the morning of the surgery. I also made sure my inner circle of loved ones knew they did not need to worry, because, I’ve got this. The outpouring of love and support aimed in my direction was amazing.

In the early morning hours prior to surgery, I took a moment to collect my thoughts and fill my heart with peace. On the drive to the hospital, I could feel a mounting surge of energy rise up within. Weird, I know, but take a look at that woman in the picture above. Does she look like someone heading to surgery?

Various surgical staff made preparations, and I was wheeled into the surgical hall. I felt as if I was floating above the cart with my loved ones supporting me. I was in glow mode by the time I rolled through the surgery suite doors. For what seemed to be the hundredth time that morning, I was asked what they were seeing me for. I remember tilting my head up so I could see everyone and announced, in detail, what they would be doing today. I was speaking loudly, as if in front of an audience, and I remember looking directly at each one of them. I noticed them nodding and smiling, like whoa, who is this? I could feel them saying, she's obviously got this! You should know, to this point, I had not been given any type of medication, just in case you were wondering.

In the moments prior to gently drifting to sleep, I felt lifted up by those wonderful, powerful thoughts and prayers aimed in my direction. It felt quite extraordinary, as if I had entered a surreal musical of sorts. I half expected this audience I had been addressing to break into song and dance. One of the surgical staff set my headphones into place and plugged me into my music. What was playing in my head during surgery? That would be baroque classics⎯the music to the very real surgery about to take place. When they began to sedate me, I remember thinking⎯I’ve got this!

It’s been seven weeks since the surgery, and I can honestly say the whole experience was incredible. What I felt the morning of the surgery was a big group hug of light, love, and energy. I can still feel the glow of that morning and know as I begin each day, I’ve got this!
Photo from my private collection.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grateful for BEing

The significance of holiday traditions varies around the globe through community observance, religious belief, family tradition, and last but certainly not least, individual choice. Giving and receiving are prevalent during these times. It can all be a bit overwhelming, and, I must interject here, out of control.

So keep it simple. Let gratitude be your guide, and let’s start with you. What are your grateful for? In that list of gratitude, did you mention yourself? Are you grateful for BEing? If BEing was not on your list, begin there. What does BEing mean to you? When I start with gratitude for simply BEing, everything else has a way of falling into place in a more meaningful way.
Be photo courtesy of Hartwig HKD

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Excess Baggage

I met with my surgeon the end of August, prior to a European vacation I had planned for September. I knew I was headed for surgery, but when the surgeon actually discussed it with me, and I had a date set in October, it became reality. From that moment, and over the next week or so, I was on an emotional roller coaster. I was snappy, cried at times, and even looked pissed off. This was not me at all. I tried to go with the flow and observe these emotions so I might understand them better, but I seemed to be getting angrier about the whole thing.

When I finally realized how angry I was, I wondered if I was actually dealing with some sort of grief stage. About this same time, I shared my feelings with my dear friend Lisa. She mentioned I might still have some issues surfacing from the difficult surgery twenty years ago. That was it! It was one of those why didn’t I think of that moments. I was so stuck in the emotion that I hadn’t quite worked it out yet. I was close with the grieving thing, but Lisa certainly made it clear to me.

"I get it and I feel it. I think your emotions are going to feel tender for a while AND there may be a tendency for some anger to pop up in weird places. This whole process is demanding that you actively "process" all the emotional patterns that are and were caught up with the past surgery, all that led to it and all that's followed. It's SO much!!! You've got this though."
Lisa McDavid

Twenty years ago I had been ill for months. So the whole period prior to that surgery, the surgery itself, the hospital stay, and the recovery was a nightmare of sorts. Even though I knew my overall health was better this time around, and all the stuff you tell yourself, I didn’t realize I had excess baggage surfacing. I knew I needed to take control of what I was feeling and process this as soon as possible. I normally travel light, as in one bag, and didn’t want this excess baggage following me to Europe.

Now, all I needed to do was to get in touch with my younger self of 20 years ago, let her unload and make sure she knows everything will be okay. This was so incredibly simple. Again, why didn’t I think of that? I decided to meditate on the subject and have a conversation with myself. I allowed me of 20 years ago to unleash emotions, cry, and be angry. Ah, that’s where the anger was coming from! I then told her how this was not the same thing as last time because I am in better health physically and mentally, I am knowledgeable about Crohn’s disease, I understand fully what is going on and what I need to do, but most importantly that I’ve got this. While I had been telling myself this all along, my younger self obviously wasn’t listening because she hadn’t had time enough to grieve and unload her feelings years ago. She clearly wanted her say!

Getting on the other side of my emotions was the best thing I could do for me. The heavy veil of anger slowly passed as I continued to process the issues. I then gave my younger self a big hug as the anger melted away and we were once again in sync. I was finally unstuck and it took me less than an hour. Halleluiah! Now I could fully enjoy my travels to Europe without the unwanted baggage, and approach my surgical date with a full sense of strength and peace.

If a holistic and integrative approach to your sense of well-being sounds helpful to you, contact Lisa McDavid, CCHT at the hyperlink noted.

Blue Suitcase photo courtesy of Drew Coffman

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rising to the Top

During the past year, it has been difficult to find continuity and balance within all the changes that keep taking place in my life. Like cream rising to the top, I visualize rising to the top of the new normal, whatever it may be.

My health, or lack thereof at times, is not something I dwell on. While it is part of me at all times, I go about my life and do things for the sake of my health. Eating well and keeping my body in shape are extremely important, and something I take very seriously. But there are times when my body has a mind of its own, even with all my well-intentioned efforts.

It was twenty years ago last month I had my first resection with full abdominal incision. I was quite ill prior to the surgery and it took me months to get on top of all that had happened. While they told me I would have eight to ten years before I would need another surgery, I was surprised when, like clockwork, I began having issues. Fast forward to the last ten years, I’ve been dealing off and on with active Crohn’s disease. With all the new medications, protocols and damn determination on my part, I was able to hold off surgery until now.

In March, after two and a half years on Humira injections with everything calm, I quite suddenly began having problems. An MRI showed something was amiss. This time we were on top of things before my health declined. My doctors were able to do an exploratory laparoscopic resection, a “search and rescue” of sorts, and they only needed to make a few punctures in my abdomen. Although, they did remove my right ascending colon, six inches of small intestine, resected the small intestine to the above transverse colon, and oh, removed my gallbladder that had stones. Most of this involvement centered around one of the areas previously resected, which is quite common. Note, while the Humira has done wonders for the rest of my gut, it does not repair damaged tissue. Not to worry, though, my new hook-up may just do the trick, along with the new medications that keep inflammation down, and my continued determination.

My how times have changed. I was home in five days as opposed to ten last time, and I actually feel pretty good, but I know I need to be extra vigilant and take it easy. A five-pound lifting limit will keep me in line. And anyone who has had abdominal surgery knows, NO VACUUMING allowed. See, there is a bright spot in everything that happens!

I find it interesting when I see my last post on walking. You see, the best thing for abdominal surgery recovery is walking, and I am doing that and then some a number of times a day, rain or shine. Along with the walking therapy, I continue to focus on the positive. As I wake each morning, I visualize cream, rising to the top of a beautiful crystal goblet. This image follows me throughout my day. But, here's my secret, I am the cream rising to the top of my new normal. When I get there, I hope you don't mind if I make a splash!

Cream Drop photo courtesy of Kyle May

I’ve missed sharing all the miscellaneous thoughts, intentions, and musings dancing around in my brain. Join me as I begin my fifth year of blogging. If you enjoy this blog or a particular post, email it to a friend, blog, tweet, share or recommend it. Spread the love, and inspire others. I hope to get back to weekly posts soon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Go For A Walk

How easy is this? Go for a walk! Really! It does wonders for clearing your monkey mind, dropping a few pounds, unplugging from the chaos, plugging into the great outdoors, bringing focus to what matters, and balancing your thoughts; not to mention, putting a smile on your face. Walking inspires me and it will inspire you. Going for a walk could just be the best thing you can do for you, and it doesn’t have to cost more than a good pair of shoes, or maybe not even that.

On a recent personal journey of Deepak Chopra's, he shares this inspirational thought: After spending time bathing in a stream, begging for their food, shaving their heads and walking barefoot...

Deepak Chopra to Thai monk, “It hurts without shoes.”
Thai monk to Deepak Chopra, “It hurts on the foot
 that’s down, but the one up feels really good so focus on that one.”

Go for a walk! It’s easy, really! Follow me. When you head out that door, you never know where you may end up. Wherever it is, I guarantee it will be a better place than you started from.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

No Curtain Necessary

We abruptly woke to the sounds of an impeding storm working its way up Lake Chelan. Rolling thunder, as I count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, cracks of lightening across the sky, sizzling snaps of light punctuating the darkness, and the soothing sound of drenching rain, mark the dawn of a new day. Thunderous storms delight me, and fill me with awe. When I was a child, I was afraid of this natural phenomenon, but I kept prodding myself to observe. It was one of those things I could not help but watch, even if I was just peaking through the curtains. As the years passed, if there was an electrical storm, I had to stop whatever I was doing, pay attention, and observe the power around me. No curtain necessary.

Years ago, we had a Husky dog by the name of Ivan. Ivan did not understand this stormy weather Mother Nature occurrence at all. He could feel a storm coming long before I did, and would start pacing and whining. If it was the middle of the night, he woke me before the storm did. I would roust myself from my sleep and sit with him⎯arms wrapped tightly around his robust chest. As I opened the curtains to observe the lightshow around us, I soothed him by gently rocking, and softly humming in his ears. Before the thunder rolled, Ivan would tense and allow his fear to take over his entire being.

Our dear Ivan never got used to these storms that rolled through his life from time to time. I wasn’t able to explain to him what was happening, or tell him how to peak through the curtains in order to learn to overcome his fears. Throughout my life, I have constantly forced myself to look, forced myself to peak through the curtains, forced myself to observe, and this has taught me to not let fear take over my entire being. I now allow the storms of my life to roll over me, if not through me. After all, it is what it is, storms happen. I will gladly step out into the storm, if necessary, in order to get through to the other side of it. Because, as I have observed, there is and always will be another side, and there might just be a rainbow.

Top photo Lightening over Adelaide courtesy of Ersu
Bottom photo rainbow with lightening courtesy of thinboyfatter

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Glow On

Recently, on a lovely night in North Carolina, I was at a cabin on a private lake with my husband, the caretaker of the cabin, and Carson, his ten-year-old family friend. I came to North Carolina for one thing, and one thing only, observing fireflies; or as they’re called in these parts, lightning bugs.

The only fireflies I have seen in the past were of the cartoon type. You know, the little bug with a light bulb butt. I’m here to tell you, there is no light bulb. But, oh my, do they glow. Fireflies are winged beetles with bioluminescent lower abdomens. Their size can be up to one inch, although the ones in northwestern North Carolina are half that size. They are found in warm, humid areas and are nocturnal. Since I do not live in an area where they would be accustomed to hanging out, I have never seen them. Thus, my mission this summer was to experience these little fairies of the dark. While I would not normally travel during the summer vacation period, it is the only time they are visible. You see, all this glowing is related to mating. Ah, but of course. Mating is taken care of, eggs are laid for the next season, and they die. Sad, but true, as is the fact they are diminishing in numbers due to light pollution and pesticides.

On this night, with Eastern Whippoorwills singing in the background, I was able to view the various green and gold glows of these lovely fairy-like bug-a-boos. Some would flash with a quick pulse, like a match going out. Others kept a steady glow; like shooting stars as they streaked from here to there, and back again, around the grasses, brush, and trees. To my astonishment, Carson quickly caught one as it flashed on, then placed the little bugger in my hands. I briefly cupped my fingers around so we could watch the light show up-close and personal. I hadn’t even thought about trying to catch one, let alone hold it! It was a moment of magic. That was the topper of the trip for me as I proceeded to get my glow-on.

While every North Carolinian I talked to was amazed I would travel across the country just to see lightning bugs. These conversations all sparked similar thoughts, as in: What other things do we have that you don’t? What things do you have that we don’t? And my favorite, I’ve forgotten just how special some things are. On this day, I want you to consider the magic happening around you every day, and night, in your own neck of the woods. Or, perhaps you need to venture beyond. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to get your glow-on!
Firefly w/glow photo courtesy of Terry Priest

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dancing to Happy

For the past year, the speed of my life has jumped a bit faster than I normally strive for. I wouldn’t call it overdrive, but I have ventured into that lane from time to time. I have wondered if this is the universe testing me. If so, how am I doing? Let’s just say, I’m getting used to the pace. Some things are in my control, some things are not, some things are fun, and some things definitely are not. It's a choice. Rather than fight it, I am learning to go with the flow, as if I am in slow motion when everything else is zipping by me. I’ve found this visualization does wonders for me personally. It actually reminds me that I have control over how I look at things. It reminds me to slow down, to take time-out for myself, to find the fun in whatever I’m doing, fun or not! When I’m in slow-mo, I find a sense of happy. 

Summer finds us outside with many activities to add to our usual year-round gotta-dos. As I look at those not so fun activities, I am striving to not let them take me down this summer. For example, the other day I spent six hours on yard projects. These were some of the not so fun activities I was talking about. I decided I needed more inspiration than listening to the lovely chatter of birds; I needed a lift in my day. On go my ear buds and I plugged into music with a beat. Tunes that made we want to dance and sing my way around the yard, which I did.

While the neighbors may have wondered what the heck I was doing, they may have actually thought, “Gee, Michelle looks like she is having a blast!” Six hours later, I dislodged the music from my head with a smile on my face. It’s interesting the number of people who have mentioned to me how fast their lives are moving these days, so it’s not just me. Whether it’s some cosmic, universe testing thing or not, we all need to find a way to dance around the yard. Can this really make us happy? It sure could help!

You may have noticed I haven’t posted weekly this month. I usually take summer off from posting, but instead I will just slow the rate of posts a bit.  Going forward into summer you will hear from me from time to time. I’m going to remind you to find your fun, find your slow-mo, dial it down, get out of overdrive, and strive for happy. Don’t let summer take you down. Here’s a little ditty that is bound to make you smile. There you go, I know you can do it. Let Pharrell Williams show you how...


Enjoy a happy summer. 

Dancing in the sunset photo courtesy of Giovanni

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pounding Dirt

Gardening is always therapeutic whether I am pounding dirt, as my dear friend Phyllis calls it, or drawing-in the nurturing aspects of it. In times of trouble, anger, confusion, I could go on here, pounding dirt has saved me from myself.

What I know for sure is this, pounding dirt is a grounding form of therapy, and may just bring on a good ache. I consider it releasing the mental to the physical. With focus and gritty determination, get out there and pound some dirt! I guarantee whatever was bothering you prior to the dirt pounding will subside.
Dirt #2 photo courtesy of Tim Samoff

Friday, May 30, 2014

Seeds of Inspiration

For many of us, gardening can be nothing more than a chore any time of the year. With an over abundance of rain, and ever-increasing days of sunshine and warmth, gardening is a chore to even the most seasoned gardeners. Between rainstorms, I am doing the same things over and over again; and I know the tasks and weeds will outnumber any list of gardening chores I may have.

At this point, I won’t be able to get ahead of the chores, or even try to catch up. Trying to take control over my own ideals can be frustrating, but I have learned to let those ideals go. Gardening has taught me many things, so not even trying to catch up is freeing. The seeds of inspiration I have gained from a lifetime of gardening have carried over into other aspects of my life. Here's a seed for you: there is always going to be one more thing, but you'll get to it eventually, or not. It’s okay!
Inspiration photo courtesy of photosteve101

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Mouse in the House

We recently noticed odd scraping and chewing sounds in the attic above our bedroom. While we have had mice visiting our garage, never have we had them in the attic. Access to this space is through our bedroom closet ceiling. My husband, Dennis, set two traps and closed the access.

The next day, while I was preparing to hop in the shower so we could head out for the day to celebrate our anniversary, Dennis decided to check the traps. Up the ladder he went. Yes, indeed, we caught two mice! While he was preparing to take the traps out of the attic, all at once I hear, “Oh $#@!,” and seconds later, a mouse lands on his shoulder and leaps off taking flight in the closet. Standing at the doorway, I figured if there were any problems I would close the bi-fold door. I failed to mention that to Dennis prior to my slamming the door shut with him still in the closet.

As I previously disclosed, I was preparing to hop in the shower. So, half dressed, with a bleaching solution sitting on my upper lip for purposes I really don’t need to go into, I ran down the stairs, out to the garage, and grabbed a bucket. Back upstairs I went. When my dear husband saw the mouse run to the opposite end of the closet, I quickly opened the door, tossed the bucket to Dennis, and just as quickly slammed the door shut. Fortunately, the mouse was more upset about the goings on in the closet than we were. As soon as Dennis set the bucket upside down at a bit of a tilt, the little mouse decided it looked safe and ran underneath. Got ‘em!

Still half dressed with my lovely bleaching solution mustache, back downstairs I run on a mission to find cardboard to slide under said mouse and bucket. Dennis took care of the rest of the mouse activity at this point while I was having a wonderfully good laugh. All I kept picturing was that darn mouse flying off his shoulder.

I giggled off and on all day, while he just shook his head. I’m sure we will have more mouse tales in our future as we roll through the upcoming years together. While many anniversaries come and go, our thirty-sixth won’t soon be forgotten. It’s nice to have loving memories to share with each other, but seldom do you get a half dressed, lip-bleaching wife running up and down the stairs while the husband is closed up in a closet with an acrobatic mouse. Gotta love those memories that put a smile on your face!
OMG! photo courtesy of johnson d

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Warrior Pose

I make sure yoga poses are a part of my weekly workout routine. Yoga helps me combine mental and physical expression, as in mind, body and spirit. Breathing deeply, while maintaining form and balance, not only strengthens my body, but stills my mind. In order to hold the poses properly, I must focus; otherwise, I lose balance.

My favorite pose is the Warrior and its variations. When I first tried this, it was difficult to hold the position for very long at all. My whole body seemed to tremble just trying to maintain the form. Now, I feel I am the warrior, and can hold the position for as long as I would like, even with my eyes closed. It has become rather centering and relaxing.

While I change Yoga routines with regularity, I always include my warrior. Anything that helps me become the warrior in my life is an important strengthening piece of my journey, and should be lovingly maintained. On this amazing journey of mine, the warrior in me will introduce more positive guidance to my mental and physical expression. I will continue to bring more centering and relaxing focus to my day.
Warrior II pose courtesy of a4gpa

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Use It or Lose It

Years ago, I noticed I had the tendency to walk into things; and I’m not just talking about the occasional table or whatever I may be walking around. I seemed to lightly brush or whack one or the other shoulder nearly every time I went through a doorway. When walking with others, I was apt to run into whoever I was walking with, usually more than once. Both of these phenomena grew worse as the years rolled by. After many bruised legs, shoulders and more than a few stepped on toes, I serendipitously came across articles relating to balance. Frankly, I hadn’t really thought about how balance, or lack thereof, may be the cause of my failure to walk through a door like a normal person, or why I had to continuously excuse myself for running into friends and loved ones. I just figured I wasn’t paying close enough attention while dashing this way and that. Though I attributed the walking into people as leaning in and paying attention to, I had to really concentrate to not walk into them.

We all know our physical abilities diminish unless we are using our bodies in a variety of ways. Use it or lose it, as they say. While I had been lifting weights for years, and knew the importance of changing my routine regularly, muscle strength was not enough to create a more stable body. I needed to include balance exercises. While there are many things that come into play affecting balance, one of the best things you can do is to practice; and guess what? It’s never too late.

In order to take control of my wandering body, I started simply. Whenever brushing my teeth, I would stand on one foot and suck in my gut (very important as these core muscles give you support). When I switched from top to bottom teeth, I would switch what foot I was standing on. Initially, I was surprised out how out of balance I was. But soon I was spitting in the sink while bending at the waist, and standing on one foot, all without falling over.

Over the years, I have added various balance exercises to my workouts. They not only increase the difficulty of whatever I am doing, they are fun. For example: when doing bicep curls while standing on one leg, it turns an arm exercise into a leg workout at the same time. And when I think the balance exercise has become easy, I close my eyes. It’s like starting all over again. Why is that fun? You can’t help but laugh at yourself while trying to maintain balance.

We hear about the increased occurrence of falling injuries as bodies age. Now, I have a better understanding of why it happens. Adding the practice of balance to my life has given me a better chance of not falling; thus, I have a better chance of not injuring myself. I seldom run into doorjambs these days. And while I may run into people from time to time when walking with them, I am stepping on fewer toes.

Note: Search balance exercises on the Internet, and you will find many ways to work balance into your life.

Surprise face photo courtesy of louiscrusoe

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oso Strong

It’s been over a month since the mudslide in the town of Oso, Washington, took the lives of 43 people. My heart continues to go out to the many families, friends, and nearby communities. While I do not live in the immediate area, I live close enough to hear the rescue helicopters fly to their destination. Every morning, I send a prayer along with them to be safe. The people of Snohomish County are fortunate to have a search and rescue unit as finely tuned as we have. I happen to know Chief Pilot, Bill Quistorf and his lovely wife Renee. Bill and his crew arrived within an hour of this catastrophe. Along with many others, they have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, over the last month.

Recently, I became aware there have been federal government cuts in funding for the Snohomish County Volunteer Helicopter Rescue Team (HRT). You can read a more personal account at Renee’s blog. This team, of mostly volunteers, conducts over 80 missions a year throughout Washington State. You may remember the bridge collapse on I-5 last year. They were there. HRT operates under federal public aircraft rules and therefore cannot charge for services. After the federal cuts, Snohomish County was able to carry them over into 2014. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable resource of specialized, dedicated individuals.

I invite you to read more about HRT, and if you are able, please donate. Who knows, you may be in need of a rescue someday. And, the next time you hear a helicopter flying high in the sky, send a quick prayer their way.

Please note: HRT is a non-profit organization that serves as a rescue resource for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. It is registered as a public charity. The team consists of 26 volunteers and 5 deputies. They are pilots, crew chiefs, rescue technicians, flight medics and ground support personnel. HRT is raising funds for operations only. No funds will go towards personnel costs or overhead.

Photo taken by Greg Racer

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Make My Day

Recently, as I left the grocery store and was crossing the parking lot, a woman rolled up to me in her wheel chair and handed me a beautiful vase of roses saying, “I can’t take these with me.” Ever weary of scams and the like I glance around the parking lot thinking perhaps they were stolen, or she may be trying to distract me in order to steal my groceries or my purse. I'm also thinking that seems odd as she is in a wheel chair. She see’s the questioning look on my face and explains further, “We can’t take these into Canada, and we are heading home after celebrating our anniversary. Please take them and enjoy.” It put a smile on my face and really made my day.

I felt bad she had to leave the flowers behind, and told her I would be glad to take them and I thanked her. I watched as she rolled back to her vehicle, where her husband was getting ready to load the wheel chair. After she left, I noticed there were six red roses and wondered if it might be their sixth wedding anniversary. I thought of her smiling face every time I looked at those lovely flowers. I felt it was my duty to fully appreciate them for her.

Receiving these flowers, has inspired me to pay it forward. Sometime soon, I am going to buy a bouquet of flowers, and hand them to someone seemingly out of the blue. Perhaps I can make their day, somehow make a difference. I have a feeling it will make my day too, and hopefully, they won't call security!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reality Bites

"Out of adversity comes opportunity."
Ben Franklin

Obstacles in life seem to pop up when we least expect them. Although, many times we may feel them coming, we just don’t want to admit it. I am learning to push through the obstacles and listen to the voice in my head saying, this too shall pass. It is through adversity when I have become stronger, persevered, and learned to fight back for my own sanity, for my own happiness.

We all learn from observing how we overcome adversity. But we also learn from observing how others deal with the obstacles in their lives. This is how we strengthen our resolve to move forward. We all stumble and fall, but most of us have learned to just get up and plow ahead even if we are just pushing through the hurdle to get to the other side. We have learned we can pick ourselves up, refocus and push through by doing whatever is necessary to put the hurdles behind us.

Yes, reality bites, as they say, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bite back! So, push through, take control, look for the opportunities and learn for your own sanity, for your own happiness.
Carla photo courtesy of Mikey Jones

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waxing and Waning

From our viewpoint, the moon appears to increase in size, waxing, and decrease in size, waning, as each month goes by. While the moon is in this continuous cycle from month to month, I feel a waxing and waning effect going on inside of me. As my got-to-dos and get-to-dos increase and decrease, I long for more get-to-dos in my life. Don’t we all?

While I feel many forces of change at work inside of me at this point, I know I must work more systematically at breaking the got-to-dos down in order to help me deal with them. But what happens when you just don’t want to do something anymore?

For example, what if I just don’t want to vacuum the house one more time? I could:
  • Space out how often I do it,
  • Break it down into smaller steps,
  • Make it fun by turning the music up and dancing my way around as I vacuum,
  • Buy new equipment to make it easier,
  • All of the above, or
  • Find someone else to do it,
  • Not do it at all,
  • Tear out the carpet,
  • Move!
I’m focusing on the last one, move. Yes, that is how much I dislike vacuuming! Actually, that is how I am feeling about doing anything in my home or yard. While this waxing effect has been building over time, I have reached the tipping point where I JUST DON’T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE! Since I can’t simply walk away from the roof over my head, I am taking the steps to get from point A to point B.

I realize it’s a matter of taking control, balancing priorities, and bringing on the change in my life. Like they say, “be the change.” As I wax and wane my way through my priorities, I look at the big picture and realize I am making the steps necessary to be the change in my life. I am moving got-to-dos to not-to-dos, and I will have more time for get-to-dos. From my viewpoint, I can look at the moon and be reminded just how far I have come.
Curious Phases of the Moon photo courtesy of Ky

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I’ve been doing really well with Crohn’s disease for the past few years. I credit the change to a disease-modifying drug, or biologic, which reduces the signs and symptoms of Crohn's and helps prevent further damage. The idea here is to achieve remission by controlling inflammation, and maintaining it in order to prevent flare-ups. Being in remission has allowed me to eat a more diverse assortment of hard-to-digest foods such as nuts, and various vegetables and fruit. Being a foodie, of sorts, I appreciate this food heaven diversity.

I don’t often talk about Crohn’s. While it is a definite part of my life, it is not my life. Recently, Crohn’s knocked me on my butt once again. Like a pothole in a road, you don’t always see it coming. All you can do is maintain as much control of your vehicle as possible, hope there are not more potholes ahead, and deal with the aftermath. I know this drill all too well.

A flare-up, or episode, is a gut-wrenching experience. Basically, it consists of contractions of my intestine, causing severe cramping which generally lasts about four to six hours. Fortunately for me, I am able to recover from a Crohn’s episode by resting for a day and maintaining vigilance over what I am eating. I get back to my life as soon as I possibly can.

Many things may set off an episode, and like anyone, I dissect the possibilities. But I have learned not to get overly caught up in the whole dissection thing. It is disappointing anytime an episode occurs. This one was particularly discouraging because it had been a few years since I experienced this severity. But, I am not worried or concerned. It’s a pothole. Move on. Chances are, as I cruise down the road in front of me, there will not be another for sometime, or at all.

We all experience various potholes in the road. The secret is to not feel vulnerable or weak. The secret is to pull yourself together, hold on to the steering wheel in front of you, and don’t let go. The secret is to be more powerful than the pothole! In a year focused on balance, I am not allowing this pothole to throw me off my feet.

Potholes photo courtesy of xemmybearx

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Running Up Hills

Last fall I had a soft tissue injury in my foot that kept me from running for six weeks. Recently, I had a cold that, once again, kept me from running. Now, I am hitting the pavement once more, but backing off my normal pace and mileage until I am fit enough to push ahead once again.

I’ve learned many things from my years of running. What I am focusing on now is getting back to small steps. It was small steps that propelled me up the hills around my home when I first began. While my legs might scream, or my endurance lag, it is taking those smaller, quicker steps that get me to the top of the hill.

I love the challenge of hills, and would much rather run up a hill than run flat. As I was out running, taking my smaller, quicker steps today, I was thinking what a metaphor smaller steps really could be for many things challenging us. It’s much easier to not push forward, to not make necessary changes, to run on the flats. While my journey through life takes me up many hills, I take pleasure by pushing forward one small step at a time. I know, by taking small steps, I will make it to the top of whatever hill or challenge is in front of me. It’s not easy getting back in the swing of things, doing what you should do, or making the necessary changes to push forward once again. Just don’t get caught up in the hill in front of you, or the one after that. Grab your shoes and hit the pavement one small step at a time. You can do it. I'm right there beside you.

Running shoes photo courtesy of luiginter

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fling Into Spring

Spring officially begins Thursday, March 20 at 9:57 a.m., PDT! Yay! Even though I am currently gazing at the fourth day this month with an inch or more of rain, the first day of spring marks a change. The temperatures will continue to gradually warm, and we will have fewer days of cold rain as we march forward into the heart of spring.

Last week, as I contemplated bursting forth into spring, and the lack of feeling any kind of spring fever whatsoever, I decided to fling myself into spring. With a fling in mind, I bought a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers for moi. I probably don’t purchase flowers nearly enough, but I was compelled to embrace a riot of color, as opposed to unending shades of grey. The bouquet has improved my outlook beyond the gloom of winter, and put a smile on my face. This simple declaration has inspired me to continue to fling throughout the spring. How will I fling:
  • Purchase a posy, or two. Why stop at one bouquet?
  • Join in the fun of an old time musical like Music Man. I’ll be singing the song list for weeks!
  • Road trip! I'll hit the road, visit friends, and visit family. It will be an adventure!
  • Experience live dance theatre, and marvel at the human body in motion.
  • Meet someone special for brunch, lunch, or dinner out-and-about, and try someplace new.
These are just some of the things I plan to fling into this spring. I believe the whole fling thing is related to leaving my winter shell behind and celebrating fun things, new things, and having them to look forward to throughout the season. Considering spring flinging first and foremost will help me continue to smile all the way into summer. So, how will you fling this spring?

Smile! photo courtesy of Sean Jackson

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Chick on the Block!

We have officially moved closer to spring by springing time forward an hour this past weekend. Because it takes me time to adjust, I'm not fond of the whole loss of an hour each spring. Although, I seem to have no problem falling back when the time comes. I have a strong feeling my body prefers standard time. But, what can I do?

I can look at this springing of time as a proclamation of renewal each year. Spring is truly right around the corner. After the dark, cold and wet days of winter, I am ready for a change! Since I’m just getting over a cold, I am even more ready to feel some warmth burst forth from the amazing golden orb in the sky. With the longer days and the warmth of the sun, a whole cycle of renewal begins again. As buds, forming on trees, swell and erupt in a profusion of flowers and leaves, and frogs and various birds proclaim the virtues of this annual celebration, I want to stretch and yawn my way out of my winter shell, like a newborn chick.

I may have lost an hour, but I want to be a part of the celebration. It is up to me to embrace this time of renewal and leave the dark, cold and wet days of winter behind. It is up to me to proclaim my song and announce that there is a new chick on the block! Look out world as I burst forth into spring.

Hatched photo courtesy of marionima

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bubble of Silence

The first Friday in March, sundown-to-sundown, is the National Day of Unplugging. Experience what a true day of rest can be by turning off your cell phone and all computer devices that  plug you into todays world. I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing Facebook and Twitter will continue without you for one day. Why bother? Creating a bubble of silence is about reconnecting with a less plugged in YOU.

I will unplug and go about my day with the freedom of no distractions. Actually, I do this on occasion anyway. Unplugging reminds me it is okay to take control and tune out from time to time. Join those throughout the world who are unplugging and reconnecting by creating a bubble of silence beginning sundown, March 7.

I Unplug photo courtesy of Alex Pang

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Eating to Live: Investing in Breakfast

Who has time to even think about breakfast?

While traveling in Europe last year, I was reminded of the creamy, crunchy goodness of muesli. It is a Swiss/German creation containing a combination of uncooked rolled oatmeal, with various nuts, seeds, fruits (dried, fresh, or canned), and yogurt. In many European countries you can find a big bowl of it on breakfast tables, or you may find a selection of various ingredients in order for you to make your own concoction.

Once we were home from Europe, I changed my smoothie routine and started making muesli. It’s as simple as taking ready-made granola and dumping in a lot of *yogurt. Since the mixture is going to grab the moisture of the yogurt, I make sure it is somewhat creamy prior to refrigeration. I can also add 100% fruit juice, milk or other liquid to increase the creaminess. I am transported to Europe with each bite I take; and it seems to be just the right balance of protein, as I do not feel the need to eat anything else until lunch.

Eating muesli got me thinking about making my own granola, like I did back in the hippy-dippy days of the 1970’s. I am now hooked on creating various granola mixes. With the yummy goodness of my homemade granola, if I am not having a smoothie or muesli, some mornings I layer granola and fruit with the yogurt like a parfait.

Mom was right! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It recharges your brain and your body, so this is not a meal to be missed or taken lightly. Breakfast isn’t just about a bowl of cereal with milk splashed on it, or a quick stop at the drive-thru. There are many good reasons one should eat a balanced breakfast, but we’ve heard them all before. Let’s suffice it to say, most of us need to eat more protein in the morning. Eating a balanced breakfast is part of a healthy lifestyle. A home blended smoothie, muesli, or granola parfait is my way of investing in the day ahead by investing in breakfast first. All three of these ideas for a well-balanced breakfast are simple to make and take if I am plowing full steam ahead into the morning.

Who has time for breakfast? You do! You will find countless recipes for smoothies, muesli and granola on the Internet to help get you started. A change is in the air for your morning routine. Before you know it, you will be concocting your own breakfast goodness. WARNING: While eating muesli, don’t be surprised if you think you are sitting in a grassy meadow surrounded by huge snow topped mountains. You may even be able to hear cowbells in the distance.

*I prefer low or no fat Greek style yogurt as it contains less fat and more protein.
Swiss Miss photo courtesy of the Clark family album.