Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dropping Out

Whenever I’m overwhelmed by anything, and nothing in particular, I withdraw from the craziness of life by shutting out the noise of technology, and creating a sense of quiet space around me – what I call dropping out. Back when I had a home and yard, I would take my drop out period very seriously. I would begin my day with meditation, a little yoga, and a walk or run, then retreat to my garden and work my butt off – enjoying every moment. There’s something about physically working my body and being outside in nature that stirs my soul. Oddly enough, I don’t contemplate anything in particular or try to problem solve when I’m in drop out mode. I guess you could say I nourish my spirit by creating this brain break. Then I start fresh and make better decisions once I’ve had the appropriate drop out time. I can even feel it coming – the pull to disengage – knowing if I’m not finding enough space for me to disengage on a regular basis, I’ll need to come to a full stop and completely drop out.

At present, living on the road full time has brought with it a need to figure out how to continue to do what I need to do to feel at my best and be me. I have been going with the flow for the last year and a half knowing full well that I needed to find more space for me to do those things that help me be at my best. But this going with the flow hasn't quite worked because I seemed to keep flowing right on by what I needed – quiet, stillness, space, with some semblance of routine even if it’s for just a short period of time. After four months in Europe this summer and fall I was mentally and physically worn out. On this trip I had the realization that I must find more time for me to just BE. I need to make the time for me to disengage on a regular basis. Which is exactly what I was doing prior to traveling full time.

When we came back to the States the first part of November, we had two weeks of wonderful downtime in Lake Chelan, Washington. Off season is the quiet season on the lake and perfect for just what I needed after traveling in Europe – time to decompress from the recent travels, get used to the time change, and begin to find myself once again. I was able to run, swim laps, fully enjoy my yoga routines, and have many quiet walks. I was gloriously happy and was able to re-energize. Now I need to keep that going, slow the travels down a bit more and find the balance between traveling and the space to just BE.

The holiday season and new year can be a time of reflection for many of us. I’m finding my way back to what my personal values are and creating the space to just BE. My wish for you this holiday season is for you to find your way back to what you know to be true for you. Perhaps you will disengage once in awhile and give your brain a much needed break.


Palm Springs Blue Lady photo courtesy of DaMClark's

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What's Missing?

Over the next few weeks we will wrap up our travels to Europe. We left the states in early July, so it's been nearly four months of traveling abroad. I find myself thinking about those things I miss, or that aren’t quite the same. For those of you who follow our travel blog, no worries, we will continue publishing posts and catch you up on our activities.

Now, back to this post – I’m missing friends and family, and fortunately I’m in touch with many of those people. I'm also missing the Pacific Northwest autumn; and unfortunately, by the time we get back the leaves will have fallen and the rains will have moved in. Because we are going home soon, that’s probably why I’m thinking about what I’ve missed and can’t wait to get back to. Case in point - food I eat on a regular basis, and then there's the goodies I make once in a while. While traveling full time, I’m able to try many wonderful regional specialties, and because I don't want to heft more of me around than necessary (remember, I pack light), I limit the sweets to one of, or a bite of one my husband has. Still, those tasty goodies are not MY go-to’s. Here's a few of my favorites:

  • Cooked thick or steel cut oatmeal with dried cranberries and nuts. Other than when I make it, the only person who makes it just the way I like is Kirby. Unfortunately, I won’t be anywhere near Kirby! Too bad I wasn't missing this early on in the trip when we were in the UK - oats were everywhere. But this will be an easy one for me to do. Oh, and its autumn, so apple cider instead of water will be perfect when I cook up glorious pots full of oatmeal goodness!
  • Kale salad – as in my chop-chop kale salad I noted in a previous post, Craving Kale. I haven't seen kale anyplace we have purchased groceries. I’m craving kale in a big way, what can I say. You know, before kale was the cool kid green it is today in the US, I never gave it a second thought.
  • Tacos – as in my homemade Tacos with just the right ingredients, not the this will do but it doesn’t do ingredient(s) I see abroad. I may just make them every night until I’m sick of them. Seriously, no chance of that happening - I've been eating tacos since I was a kid before there was any fast-food place selling them. I know tacos and they don’t come from a restaurant or fast-food drive-thru!
  • Organic peanut butter (preferably Kirkland brand) – love it on sliced apples or just off the spoon. And that reminds me how much I need to make my peanut-peanut butter-butter cookies (yes, that's one cookie and no typos)! Oh man, can’t wait!
  • Pancakes – as in my Daddy’s recipe for buttermilk pancakes made with Bulgarian buttermilk – no low-fat no-fat nonsense for those babies. And that means I’ll need real maple syrup from New England. Dang, that’s a lot of pancakes I’ll have to eat to use that stuff up!
  • Smoothies – my homemade goodness in a glass and also a previous post, Smoothie Nirvana. Thing is, I seldom have a blender available, and traveling light means there are things I sort of give up. It’s unfortunate because I’ve been making my breakfast in a glass since high-school. I MISS SMOOTHIES! But not enough to haul even a hand blender around with me.

Surprised that I should mention pancakes and cookies? While some of the healthier mentions above are good for me, and I really try and feed my body properly on a regular basis, it's about balance. I’ve never been someone who cut out everything that’s not good for me to eat. I just eat those things in moderation. Besides, most of the above is good for me, ‘cept those pancakes, the peanut-peanut butter-butter cookies, and, oh, there’s also my chocolate Kahlua brownies, and my macadamia nut white chocolate soft cookies right out of the oven, and then there’s...

Sounds like I need a fully stocked (food and baking supplies) kitchen! It’s nearly impossible for me to assemble the kinds of ingredients I need for my go too’s. It’s just not practicle. Plus, not all the kitchens have decent tools for cooking/baking even though owners note having what is needed. I may be hitting up a few of my friends or family members so I can cook – I MISS COOKING!  I make the best out of what’s available in stores and how the kitchen is set up in the homes we stay in, but it’s not how I’m used to cooking. I MISS MY KITCHEN!

You see, I wasn’t brought up with store-bought baked goods or meals. We made most everything from scratch. And I continued this way of cooking as an adult because the store-bought stuff wasn’t as good as the home-made stuff. So that meant, unless I made it, you wouldn’t find store bought muffins, cookies, pies, cakes, whatever in my home. Frankly, it's been a good way over the years to keep calories in check. Oh, but I need to make an apple pie because it’s the season for it, and I love warm apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese when the temperature and the leaves fall. Oh my gosh, then there’s my incredible pumpkin pie, and I love my home-made soups, and dang, I need to eat something after this ‘cuz I’m starving!

Thing is, with traveling full-time, I may not miss having my home and property. I’m missing a part of me. I’m missing my kitchen, my cooking. While I have gotten rid of most of the things in my life, you can bet I've boxed up and stored everything my kitchen had, except food of course. I know someday I'll have my kitchen back. Until then, don’t be surprised if I show up at your door...

I’m asked time and again what I miss with my full-time travel lifestyle. It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve always thought there’s a lot of truth in that. But for now, I’m willing to give up a few things (temporarily or perhaps permanently) for all the other things I'm gaining in this amazing traveling life. I realize there will always be a missing piece or two, or three in my life. Again, it's about balance, and I’m working on all that. I’ll figure out what I'm missing and try to make do, but I think it’s a good thing to test myself and see what’s truly important in my life right now. And I’ve got that with my traveling buddy who just happens to be my husband. But, oh, I need kale salad soon, and then there’s my roasted chicken with garlic and balsamic, my spaghetti with meat sauce, my chicken pot pie...


Puzzle2 photo courtesy of Willi Heidelbach

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Moving Beyond the Pain

Pain happens. And when it does, pain is real. It’s a fact none of us care to dwell on even though we all deal with its many forms at one time or another. In recent months, a number of people I know have had to deal with pain from accidents, health issues, family issues, and loss of loved ones. My thoughts on this subject, while personal, stem from the deep feelings I have on this very subject, and since I’m not there with you to talk about it, here’s what I’ve got to say...

There are many words to describe pain, but it boils down to two characteristics – physical and psychological. How each of us deals with it is truly a personal thing, but in the end, there is a reason why it’s there, so we must learn from it, and move through it. Reasons – well, there could be a number of reasons why the pain is there, but that would be a different post, so I’ll leave reasons for you to figure out. Learning from pain may not be something you’ve heard before. If you haven’t, perhaps that’s why you are still dealing with it in the same old way. Pain is not a friend to anyone, and I’m sure most people would not consciously choose it as a friend; but yet, I know many people who give up on it and just live with it – and that, right there, is a choice.

I would have to ask myself why, why, why is it there? I’ve done this many times and the more I ask, the more I try crafting my question in a different way – it may take time, but the answers do come. The secret is to figure out how best to craft that question. Believe me, you are not a wimp, and I know you can do this. The sooner you do it – the better for you! Although, I should point out here that sometimes you may just be afraid of what answers do come when you start asking the questions? If that’s the case, you better get on it soon and just deal with it! This is not woo-woo stuff. If you think this is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, then how’s what you’ve been doing working for you so far?

Talking to your pain can be as real as the pain you feel. What have you got to lose? Here’s what I do – I fully bring my attention to the pain, noticing not only where it is located, but how it moves, and how it makes me feel. I try to picture it, talk to it and craft my questions accordingly. You may find that asking the more difficult questions is a journey on its own!

I don’t accept – this is my lot in life, or that it will always be this way – always and life are a long miserable time if you carry the burden of pain with you. So, don’t accept the status quo. If I can do this, so can you, and it doesn’t matter if the pain you feel is old or new. Fight the pain, be it physical or psychological, do battle, go to war and say yes to getting your life back. I realize you may not like hearing this, but it is as simple as bringing awareness to the pain, asking the questions, and letting it go.

Right now, this moment, accept what is, release the pain, and be better than you were a moment ago. Resistance to acceptance is a form of negativity and there are no possibilities in negativity - ever. Accept, and release the pain - open yourself to a new beginning. Allow the possibilities of the moment to flow into your life. There is another side to it, like a light at the end of a tunnel, but it's up to you to illuminate the way.

Bring attention to it - and let it go!

PS - don't bother asking me if this was written for you - if you think it was, then it was, like all my other posts...

Love, Michelle

Light at the end of the tunnel photo courtesy of Dawn Huczek

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Happy Anniversary

In August of 2010, I posted to this blog for the first time. I started It Is What It Is as a way for me to continue to write after I finished the book I was working on. While slowly making my way through the book editing process I missed the writing process. As I approached the end of my fifth blogging year, I considered putting a wrap on it as my intention had been to blog for five years. Obviously, I haven’t stopped. I still love the idea of instant publishing and work hard to continue to inspire others through all the changes going on in my life – from living life in a somewhat normal fashion while living with chronic health issues to living out of my suitcase and traveling full-time – chronic issues be damned!

Why do I continue to blog? As with my initial posts, I believe we can all learn from one another as we strive to be our best selves through the ups and downs of our lives. Why do I believe you would be interested in what I have to say? Because I look at my life in a positive light. I wasn’t always this way, but adopting a positive mindset changed my outlook, changed my life, and I hope to inspire the change you may be looking for.

Since 2010, I have continued to work on my book in various stages of editing, formatting, cover design, and on, and on. Early in the process, I decided not to go down the formal publishing road for many reasons, and self-publishing seemed to be a better fit for me. It has been a lot of work to wear so many different hats in the publishing process. It is also a bit more difficult with my traveling lifestyle to work-in when I can focus on the final stages of my book. I’m happy to report I was able to find two months during the spring of 2017 to move the book along. I am now closer than ever to making the self-publishing thing happen. While this may sound like a teaser – well, it is! Let’s see what happens with all this by year end. And, in case you are wondering what this book of mine is called – It Is What It Is. Of course! You will finally be able to follow in the footsteps of my journey, and learn how I found the positive mindset that inevitably changed my life.

Join me as I begin my eighth year of It Is What It Is. I promise to keep you up-to-date on the final process of publishing later this fall and winter. As always, share the love of a post or this blog. If you would like to follow my traveling adventures, you will find a link to my travel blog in the sidebar along with links to Instagram and Facebook. Thank you for your wonderful comments over the years. 


Friday, August 18, 2017

Connecting The Dots

As full-time travelers, many say we are living the life – perhaps we are, but living the life has its own challenges. To begin with, it’s more work than anyone can imagine. It’s not just merrily going from point A to point B, but figuring out a general route, and trying to connect all the dots – and there are a lot of dots! There’s plane and train schedules and canceled connections while en route, car rentals, length of stays, and of course finding beds within our budget criteria. Oh, and don’t forget making all these plans while working with subpar internet connections. And, it’s not about just finding the beds but determining best location for local transportation, what we might want to see and do, how close the market is, nearby restaurants, and on and on. Connecting the dots takes a huge amount of time and energy, granted it’s time and energy we have now, but it is tedious work nonetheless - and quite frankly at times has my head spinning. Don’t even get me started on what happens when we actually live the planned dots by schlepping our bags through crowds and hopping on the train connections, hauling them over cobblestone streets, and up several flights of narrow spiral staircases.

You might be surprised to find that we seldom have the time to research the things to do and see in locations we are traveling to until we are actually there!

The main thing is that this type of living is not for people who have issues with detailed planning or adapting to change. This type of living is not for come what may attitudes because the results would vary greatly and create unnecessary levels of stress. In short, living the life is mentally and physically challenging, exhausting, and wonderful all at the same time! Fortunately, there are two of us living the life and connecting the dots as a team. With every change, there comes a certain amount of stress even for the most unflappable laid-back type – I’m thinking of my husband Dennis here. For me, the key is to move through any stress I may feel while living the life and get to the other side of the situation as soon as possible – and of course, believe I can. I wasn’t always able to embrace adapting to change in this manner. I’ve learned what I am capable of and trust I can get through whatever is ahead as we continue to connect the dots and live the life.


Some cheerful data photo courtesy of Dirkcuys

Friday, July 21, 2017

Moments of Gratitude

Recently, when I was visiting family and friends in the Pacific Northwest, my friend Ann was telling me how amazing she’s been feeling these days, and how happy she is. While she has had some low moments and a myriad of health issues the last few years, hearing Ann talk about how great she was feeling filled me with joy! Ann’s a trouper, the grins and bears it type. I was curious what she attributed this new-found happiness to. Smiling, she told me started bringing more gratitude into her life and the things that used to upset her no longer do. Three months previously, it was suggested to her to start a gratitude journal, and that’s all it took. She realized how many things go on throughout her day that she feels grateful for. It’s just that she hadn’t taken the time to consider the moments of her day in quite this way. And it’s not about all the big things one would imagine, it’s about the small stuff. Ann began to find joy in the little moments by taking the time to realize how significant the little moments are.

A number of years ago I realized I wasn't taking the time to be grateful for the things in my life that made a difference to me. Instead of keeping a journal, I decided I would temporarily isolate the moment of gratitude and focus on grateful feelings as they happened. I even found myself saying a quiet thank you at times as I enjoyed my moment. I also began reviewing my gratitude moments as I fell asleep each night and found it to be a lovely way to end my day. I have continued to honor gratitude as it happens every day since.

Being grateful moment to moment is sometimes all we have when dealing with whatever we are dealing with. The key is to bring attention to gratitude when we see it – when we feel it. Happiness is a good thing, and I don’t think we take the time to allow ourselves the happiness being grateful can bring. Like Ann said, it’s really just an attitude change, but it has made such a difference. As Ann was sharing with me her new found gratitude practice, I felt myself thinking that I should have shared my gratitude realization with her years ago, and I decided I should share this with you so you, too, may find the happiness being personally grateful has brought to me and now Ann.


Enough is a feast photo courtesy of Irudayam for which I am grateful

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How I Travel With Medication

Due to the autoimmune disease Crohn’s, I travel with the medication Humira and use the pre-filled pens twice a month. Humira is an injectable biologic (genetically engineered protein) that blocks inflammation and is used for treating a number of autoimmune diseases. Any kind of traveling with this type of medication can be a pain in the butt because it must be stored at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. But having to deal with this inconvenience is not going to keep me from living my life as I choose; and right now, I choose to live my life as a full-time traveler.

I have found one must be creative when traveling with refrigerated medication. Long travel days with layovers and such, or no in-room refrigerators can be frustrating. But I have found many people to be quite understanding and helpful in keeping my medication cooled within range. I have given my medication and gel-packs to complete strangers to store even though I can't monitor the temp. On layovers at airports, I extend the time my medication can travel safely by going to one of the lounges or bars and asking them to freeze gel-packs and refrigerate the pens. If they can, they are more than accommodating. In Barcelona, the hotel freezer quit so my gel-packs were not frozen when I was leaving for a long travel day. I found some ice, loaded zip-lock bags and filled my cooler. We were not flying so the ice was no problem. But what would I have done if we were flying? I would have found a restaurant or bar willing to help prior to takeoff, and once on the plane, I would either ice it down or the airline attendant would have refrigerated it depending on the airline’s restrictions.

It helps to keep an open mind and sense of humor anytime, but becomes even more important when traveling with refrigerated medication. Am I worried about keeping the temperature range? Absolutely not! Otherwise, I'd be a nervous wreck and I wouldn’t travel! I try and have a sense of adventure and look at any glitches as a learning opportunity for future travels. I can’t predict all potential problems and I don’t worry about not always being able to monitor the temps. I trust it will be okay. I’m sure you have a lot of what ifs going through your mind, so let’s cut to the chase, what’s the worst that can happen - if the medication is spoiled, damaged, or lost? If that is ever the case, I know I’ll take charge of the situation and sort it out. Pain in the butt, you bet. But I'm willing to deal with it so I can keep myself healthy and enjoy my traveling lifestyle.

I have been asked by a number of people how I manage traveling with this type of medication, so for those who would like to understand more, read on...

  • Receiving medications: My health insurance allows me to have up to 3 months medication and my mail-order prescription company will send them to me anywhere in the United States. When out of the country, I must travel with whatever medication I may need for the time I’m gone, and fortunately my health insurance allows me to order one vacation override per year. That has covered the number of pens I have needed.
  • Gel packs: Humira is shipped with gel-packs. I always keep a few in a freezer with someone at our home base. These are much easier than traveling with ice because they don't turn to liquid when they melt, and with a good insulated cooler can last for at least 18 hours in the proper temperature range.
  • Monitoring temperature rage: I can monitor the temp by carrying a wireless thermometer. The sensor is kept along with the Humira pens and the small readout device fits easily into a very small compartment in whatever else I may be carrying. It’s also handy to monitor refrigerators before storing my meds. I find most hotel and home refrigerators are not in the correct range for the food even if they are currently storing food! Nevertheless, I adjust the temp and keep an eye on the monitor.
  • Insulated coolers:
    • Thermoelectric Cooler: When driving around North America I use a Koolatron cooler that plugs into a car battery, and has an AC adaptor if necessary for motel rooms without refrigerators. It's an easy way to store medication on long drives - particularly when it is warm outside. I can also add refrigerated or frozen gel-packs for when the car is not running.
    • Insulated Cooler: Polar Bear coolers work well along with 2-4 gel packs.
  • Air travel and airport security: There are strict guidelines for flying with carry-ons but medications are considered essential carry-on items. Even so, every time I fly I check restrictions prior to flying. Any medications or supplements we carry are labeled, and I carry more extensive information regarding prefilled injection pens in case there are any questions. Most of the time I'm asked by security screening personnel to open the cooler so they can insure nothing will leak. I keep each gel-pack in zip-lock bags for this reason even though Polar Bear coolers do not leak, but try explaining that to security! I’d rather not have to open the cooler as it lets the cool air escape and reduces overall storage time, but I have no choice in this matter either. And believe me, I’ve tried!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Finding Space

On a recent crowded hike at Zion National Park, I felt pushed as people were constantly coming up from behind and we were constantly moving over. Then when we would want to stop and refresh ourselves with water, the slower folks would pass us and then we would again have to pass them. After a while it reminded me of the children’s game of leap-frog which, quite frankly, I never cared for. I was about ready to turn around and head back down to the car - even though I knew we were not far from our intended destination of Upper Emerald Pool. I sent my husband, Dennis, ahead as well as numerous groups, and finally there was a huge gap. I enjoyed my little space of quiet. Seems most people these days jabber constantly while hiking rather than listening to the surrounding natural environment, but I digress. Up ahead I saw a large squirrel enjoying what looked like a dust bath. I didn’t make a sound or move because I wanted the squirrel to finish what it was doing. It rather looked as if it were swimming in the dusty trail. Then a group walked towards the squirrel, I pointed to the squirrel and they stomped by nodding and smiling my way as the squirrel scampered away. As I walked to the area where the squirrel had been, I noticed it cleaning itself off not far from the trail. About that time, my peace and quiet ended abruptly as I saw more groups catching up behind me. The first person passing me was a girl who was about ten years old. I pointed to the squirrel and she slowly walked up, saw the squirrel then shrugged her shoulders and screwed up her face. Then the rest of her family passed me by jibber-jabbering along with many other groups. My idea of hiking is to get out into nature and engage my senses while enjoying the diversity of the area I am visiting, but I digress once again. As I continued up the trail, I wondered why some of the people were even on this hike.

When I arrived at Upper Emerald Pool, everyone was around the pool – playing, resting, or having a bite to eat. I had noticed a rainbow shining in the small waterfall spilling into the pool when I was coming down the path, but when I got closer to the pool there was no longer a rainbow. So not wanting to hang with the crowd, I hiked up and out of the way of everyone else and found a continuous rainbow shining over the waterfall. I was the only one above the pool enjoying this lovely rainbow, but soon Dennis joined me, and of course others began migrating our way - time to head back down the even more crowded trail.

On the way down, we passed a young family trying to make their way up the trail. There was a boy of around 5 and his 4-year-old sister. The boy had started to complain about the hike as we were passing them. I stopped and said, “It’s okay, it’s not so bad. And when it seems like it’s too hard, just remember that there is a rainbow at the end of the trail.” The little girl’s eyes got big and the little boy stopped complaining. Their mom told me I knew just what to say. This encounter made me smile and consider my own thoughts about the hike.

Had I turned around and gone back to the car one of the many times I had considered it, I would not have seen the rainbow at the end of the trail. If I’m not enjoying myself, it is up to me to make the choice to either put up with whatever it is and not allow myself to fuss and fume, or to somehow make the necessary changes that might make the difference in my day. I couldn’t change the fact all of humanity seemed to be on the trail that morning, and that they all seem to be so set on the destination they failed to see what was going on around them. Once I figured out that I just needed some space, I found the space and could move forward and enjoy the rainbow at trails end.

Finding space photo courtesy of DaMClark's

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Eating to Live: Water the Driving Force

“Water is the driving force of nature”
 Leonardo da Vinci

I do what most people probably do first thing in the morning-I head to the bathroom. While sitting on the throne, I begin my day by rehydrating with a 10 ounce glass of water. I drink it slowly and allow my body to soak up its goodness, but this is not how I always felt about drinking water. I had my first bladder infection over thirty years ago. My doctor told me I should consider drinking more water. Up until this point I really didn't care for water and never gave a thought to how much I drank during the day. After the painful bladder infection I was determined to start a new water habit.

We have all heard at one time or another that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but what size of glass? I found a glass refers to 8 ounces. So I began trying to work 64 ounces of water into my day. I decided I should start with a glass of water first thing each morning, because I read that after sleeping 7 or 8 hours we begin the day dehydrated. That was an easy habit to get into-10 ounces down, 54 to go! I worked in an office with a ladies restroom down the hall. By the second day of my hourly trips to the bathroom, Gloria, the secretary, popped her head out of her office and asked me if I was feeling okay. I told her what I was doing and she pointed to her desk. There sat a tall bottle of water. She mentioned my body would get used to drinking water after two weeks and I would not be making so many trips to the restroom. She also mentioned she always had water with her, kept track of how much she was consuming, and that she wrapped up her water drinking before 7 or 8 pm so she wasn't up all night. The next day I had a bottle of water sitting on my desk and it followed me throughout my day. Gloria was right, after about two weeks I no longer made hourly trips to the ladies restroom.

By drinking water on a regular basis I started noticing a number of improvements over a short period of time:
  • My skin, hair, and nails were not as dry.
  • My face looked revitalized.
  • I slept better at night.
  • I carried less water weight-go figure! But the fact is, drinking water flushes toxins out of the body.
  • My body physically felt better-almost as if I finally had what my body needed!
  • I felt more refreshed.
  • I got extremely thirsty if I was behind on my water intake, which was not something I noticed before my new water habit.
Interesting facts:
The body contains 55% to 78% water depending on your body size.

Our bodies can lose approximately 68 ounces of water through normal bodily functions. It just makes sense to replace what we lose each day.

Drinking alcohol, caffeinated beverages, or taking various prescription medications is dehydrating so you might consider drinking that much more water to offset the dehydrating effects.

Most people are in a state of dehydration which can lead to a number of health related issues. Because of that fact, we should all be aware of the following:
As part of the blood workups for physicals a CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel) is done. This test covers many different levels including Estimated GFR (kidney function). Recently, I have known more than a few people with a Stage 4 flag on their blood workup. Stage 4 indicates possible kidney disease and advises nephrology (kidney specialist) consult, Stage 5 is kidney failure. And, of course, their doctors told these patients they needed to see a kidney specialist. BUT, before seeing the nephrologist (which can take 6-8 weeks) and after sharing their concern with me, they began drinking 40-60 oz. of water a day for 6 weeks. They asked their regular doctor to recheck their eGFR, and they no longer needed to see the specialist! A one-off test does not make something wrong, and on my blood lab results for eGFR it states that a single determination is not considered diagnostic. Had these people gone to the nephrologist, it would have meant an appointment or two with more tests when all these people needed to do was drink more water, AND continue to drink water on a regular basis! Most general practitioners and internists are willing to work with you if you have a reasonable plan of action (if not then you are going to the wrong doctor). Obviously, if more eGFR testing shows Stage 4 it definitely is time to see the nephrologist.

Over the years they have told us how much water to drink, and they have told us we don’t need to drink as much water as they originally told us. Who knows? Like so many other things they say, we need to figure out what makes sense and works for us. All I know is I feel better when I am consuming around 60 ounces of water a day. I am a driving force in my life and it all starts first thing in the morning with a glass of water. How much water do you drink in a day? Are you willing to allow water to be a driving force for change in your life?

Splash photo courtesy of Shawn Harquail

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Intimate Apparel

How does one go about leaving their bra at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store? It’s quite easy, really... It was time to replace the worn-out swim suit I use for lap swimming. I thought it would be an easy undertaking in the land of many swimming pools near Palm Springs, California, where we were going to spend the month of March. I would be wrong in that thought. There were plenty of resort wear shops selling nothing but resort wear style swimsuits. When I popped into one, the sales gal looked at me like I had swallowed a frog and said, “Oh, honey, this is a resort wear shop! You might want to look at one of those sport stores in the area.” Now, that may be fine and dandy, but what I have seen previously over the years at sporting goods stores is a very limited selection and not suitable for a serious lap swimmer.

On my first stop at a Dick’s Sporting Goods I found just what I expected to find - not what I was looking for. A few days later, I stopped at a Big 5 Sporting Goods. Low and behold they had a few suits worthy of trying on. I had worn a little summer dress I normally do not wear a bra with, but on this occasion, I thought it necessary to wear one. I tried on several suits that day and found one that fit, purchased it, and went home. As I was dressing the next day, I was unable to find my bra and began looking through my travel bags, on door knobs, hooks, and behind furniture. No, I don’t normally fling my bra around, but one never knows when searching somewhat desperately for an item. Then I got to thinking about the last time I wore it. Aha! I remembered taking it off at Big 5 and hanging it on the end of one of the swimsuit hangers. I was not happy about this revelation whatsoever, but, oh well, so it goes. 

When I got to thinking more about my lost bra and what the staff at the store might think when they found it, I thought it was the kind of funny story I should share with my sister so I called her. We both had a good laugh, but she wanted me to call the store. I told her they might think I walked off with one of their swim tops, and it just wasn't worth the hassle. But she was insistent, which got me wondering where my bra might have ended up.

I called Big 5, talked to Armando, he didn’t seem to think my story odd, he looked for said bra, and he took down my phone number in case they found it. A couple days later I was near Big 5, stopped in, walked to the swimsuits, looked on the inside of the racks, and noticed my navy-blue bra strap right away. I grabbed the hanger with the navy blue swimsuit and my navy blue bra still hanging from it then walked to the cashier. I held up the hanger and told her that I had left my bra here a few days ago when I purchased a swimsuit. A young man standing near her exclaimed, “Michelle, where did you find that?” I said, “Armando!? The cashier then needed to hear more of the story as Armando said, “That - is not - a bra. I was looking for a BRA! You know?” As he held his hands way out in front of his chest. I told him my husband had asked me if I had mentioned what the bra looked like. Other than it was navy-blue I had not said anything about there being no cups. Now, no cups versus cups makes my blue bra look like a two-piece swim top, and that was why I had stopped into the store. I walked out of Big 5 twirling my cup-less blue bra with a big smile on my face.

I tell this rather personal, but funny little story because I love not worrying about what other people may think about me, I love that something like this can happen and I can be so blasé about it that I can just walk right into a store, share a possibly embarrassing intimate apparel story with a young man, and leave the store twirling my bra. You know, sometimes, or should I say most times, we just need to get out of our own way and twirl that blue cup-less bra.


Some bras photo courtesy of Almost Michelle

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pressures Rising

QardioArm app start window on my phone, QardioArm in place for pressure reading,
history window on my phone, device ready to travel...

Taking care of myself is a top priority in my life. It helps me be the best I can be in whatever I am doing. While I do a good job of taking care of myself normally, our gypsy lifestyle can make it a bit more challenging. That's where creativity and adaptation help me learn a few new tricks along the way.

Case in point: Prior to being a full-time traveler, I tracked my blood pressure (BP) on a regular basis. Not because I had high blood pressure, but to show my doctor I did not need medication for high blood pressure. You see, I have white coat syndrome (white coat hypertension). In other words, my blood pressure rises as soon as I enter my doctor’s office. 

Last year when I went to Europe for four months, I didn't pack my BP monitor simply because my blood pressure is stable and packing light does not include my bulky BP monitor. I had thought I would occasionally follow up on monitoring somewhere along the way in Europe, but I did't realize it would be difficult finding BP monitoring stations in European pharmacies. When I arrived home, I was due for my annual physical, and once again my BP was sky high and continued to rise throughout the subsequent checking during the appointment. While my doctor didn’t exactly care for the readings, I told him I would be more vigilant in taking my own readings as I had previously been, and we could address the issue on a follow up appointment unless the monitoring showed a significant problem before then.

I did some research and tried a simple lightweight BP wrist monitor. But here’s the thing, the readings were always high. I checked the readings against my bulky reliable monitor and the wrist monitor wasn't correct. After more research I found this can be common with wrist monitors. I returned the wrist style and purchased a wireless QardioArm that works with an app on my iPhone and iPad. I wear it above my elbow on my left arm as I did with my old monitor. The device weighs 10.9 ounces and is 2.7 x 1.5 x 5.5 inches. It is much smaller and weighs half as much as the monitor I had been using. It triple measurement averages and shows heartrate with irregular heartrate detection, which is what I’m used to seeing from my old monitor. It’s easy to set up and use, but moreover validates the readings I had previously recorded on my old bulky reliable.

Consider this scenario: I go to the doctor and have not been monitoring my blood pressure on a regular basis, he sees rather high readings and notes those high readings from previous visits, then proceeds to prescribe medication for a problem I may not have! It’s up to us to be proactive in our health and work with our doctors as a team. Don’t leave your doctor hanging out there with limited information because you don't take the initiative for your own health. In the long run, taking medication you don’t need, or should be taking more of or less of, can lead to catastrophic health issues!

When I see my doctor next time, I’ll be able to show him the QardioArm history on my phone. And even though I'm traveling full time, QardioArm will help me stay on top of my health without adding pressure.

QardioArm photo courtesy of DaMClark's

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eating to Live: Breakfast Salad

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I do my best to start the day with a good meal. While I don’t always have a lot of time to spend on breakfast, it is important for me to start the day off right. Past breakfast posts have been about museli in Investing in Breakfast, beet smoothies in Smoothie Nirvana, and gluten free orange/flaxseed muffins in Changing Course. Today it's my breakfast salad. In an attempt to reduce my carbs, eating just two eggs on a plate without toast cradeling the eggs was unappetizing to look at. Even the eggs looked bored! So one morning I tossed a bunch of salad greens on the plate, topped them with eggs and my breakfast salad was born.

It couldn’t be easier – I grab a handful of tender mixed greens, spinach, and whatever else I have floating around the kitchen that sounds good. My favorite ingredients on the greens are tomato, avocado, and green onion. I drizzle a bit of olive oil, add a dash of salt and pepper, and two fried eggs. You heard me right – fried eggs. I’ve added hard boiled eggs if I’ve had them, prepared poached eggs, but I prefer eggs fried in a slight amount of butter or a drizzle of olive oil – and voila, a lovely, quick and easy breakfast that stays with me until lunchtime. Other toppings I enjoy are: a sprinkle of flax meal, grated cheeses such as manchego, feta, Cheddar, parmesan, crumbled bacon, dried cranberries or raisins, leftover steamed veggies, even sliced fruit and nuts. With this salad you can not only have a great breakfast, but lunch or light dinner, too. Let your imagination run wild - if it tastes good, chances are it will only enhance your salad.

With all the traveling I do, starting my day with a health-filled breakfast is not only important for the day ahead but for my overall health. Since we are not on vacation, but choose this nomadic lifestyle, we can't eat like we are on vacation! As the Italians say, buon appetito! – Have a good meal!


Salad photo courtesy of the DaMClark's

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Art of Adaptation

After four months traveling in Europe, we arrived back in the Pacific Northwest on January 12. We are here to recover from the colds we had recently, take care of a few appointments, enjoy seeing friends and family, and prepare to changeover to spring traveling in the United States desert Southwest. Since we no longer have a house to come back to, normally we would continue to use Airbnb as we do when traveling about, but this time we are staying at a friend’s condo while they are out of town.

Traveling as we do, and not as if we are on vacation, allows us to experience traveling more intimately. We visit communities, not just destinations, and become temporary locals. With all the change, one learns the art of adaptation. Every time we move into a new place it’s not about just seeing the sights and eating good food. We do not consider ourselves on vacation, and must figure out where things are in our neighborhood and in the home(s) we live in. That’s something you probably hadn’t considered, but with each home we encounter different internet connections, beds and pillows, appliances, toilets, showers, light switches, kitchen setups, and more. Sometimes, when we first move in, I find myself simply standing in one spot trying to remember which direction to go for what! But oddly enough, when setting up in our temporary homes, we have fallen into a routine, of sorts. There’s usually a period of adjustment, but it doesn’t take us long to settle in and adapt.

You might be wondering if we miss having a home to come back to? The answer to that would be - absolutely, not! While that may be surprising to you, it’s not to us at all. We were more than ready to downsize stuff and the lives we had established; and quite frankly, it’s a relief to have that behind us. We may not know where our beds are going to be down the road, but that’s okay with us. And you should also know, we get antsy after a time depending where we are and what we are doing. In other words, we’re ready to leave and move on down the road when the time comes.

We’ve been asked if not knowing so many things about our daily lives, and traveling to so many places, is scary in any way? Again, absolutely, not! There's a certain sense of freedom in the lives we are living now, and we wouldn’t put ourselves in harm’s way, but if something happens, then we will deal with it. We travel with a heightened awareness, but not with fear. Fear would not work with this lifestyle. What we are experiencing with all this adapting is unlike most people will ever know. We love getting to know communities and the people, and the sights come as a bonus for us. We are grateful for this new lifestyle and the experiences. We are embracing adaptation and all that it may have to offer.

Swiss smile photo courtesy of DaMClarks

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year of More

I want more this year. I would like to be more centered, more focused, more random, more giving. I would like to listen more, laugh more, and love more. I want more of what life has to offer. Forget resolutions that make you feel less when you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, and join me in choosing a word or theme for the year. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now, and I find it empowering because it gives me the opportunity each day to activate and infuse my word into the day.

2016 heralded in the theme of change – extreme change! Having sold our home and are currently living out of a few suitcases, the word change reminds me to roll with the flow and be more patient and flexible. At times, change has been a challenge for me. But I will continue to embrace it and learn from it as I move on to more in 2017.

So, go ahead, forget the resolutions and choose an empowering word with me. Place the word in your mind as you wake each morning and as you drift to sleep each night. You’ll find you will be reminded throughout the day of your word – I love it when that happens! You are in charge and can be more along with me.

Welcome to my year of more!

More photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk