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Thursday, August 16, 2018

And The Journey Continues....Endure!!!

When I woke up from my surgery I knew pretty quickly challenges lay ahead. I didn't know how many, or to what extent, but I was alive and ready to take on all comers. 

I mean I lived, right? Wouldn't that qualify as the hard part? 

Oh the things we think...

My body changed its shape after the surgery -  it was part of the door prize.

Forget what four children or menopause did to me....

Or gravity...

Nothing like emergency open heart surgery to alter a body in ways you never thought was possible. I remember someone visiting me in the hospital and whispering in my ear, "I am so glad you are alive I bet you lose some weight from this." It's true I have been on a diet since 8th grade but even I winced at that one. I've tried Atkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem...none have really been effective so lets try open heart surgery! Yes!! That's the ticket! Why didn't I think of that before?

Oh, good grief....

The first few months after surgery I realized none of the muscles in the front of my body were working at all. There had been several tubes inserted there and of course the actual incision reached all the way down to there. I couldn’t suck in my stomach if I tried and then inexplicably I gained 25 pounds. How is this possible? Everyone else I read about said they had no appetite after surgery, however my appetite seemed to survive the trauma just fine. Like a cockroach after an atomic bomb. But I kept saying "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive". I survived as a little round person wearing the exact same clothes everyday because nothing else fit. If I tipped over I would simply roll around like one of those funny little black bugs. And yet I still chanted, "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive"

But now as you know I am exercising, pumping iron, slinging ropes, bouncing off large balls and jumping on ellipticals! Three days a week the good people at Biometrix put me through what can only be referred to as the absolute best way to get into shape. But it isn’t easy...

You know I give it my all, it’s just that I get to all a little faster than everyone else. Sometimes it's all I can do to just get to the gym. I look at them and wonder if they are kidding when they suggest I do something I haven't done in years. My evil angels are always looking out for me and whisper in my ear, "Are you crazy? Go back to bed, leave that stuff to the young people who have no real sense anyway. They watch the Bachelor for hell's sake!" And then I hear Anthony, Sarah and Josh tell me age means nothing unless I let it. They remind me I won't get hurt, be too sore to walk or give up." And that's all I need..someone to believe in me, because unfortunately I don't. So not only do I have to regroup the physical I have to regroup the psychological and stop listening to voices who tell me its too late and I am too out of shape. I am all that is in the way, and I am the only one who can get out of my way.

Those voices are lethal if you are trying to change. So I stop when I hear them and say the most simple thing imaginable.


No need to scream it, just say it. A voice comes into your head that is negative in any way. Stop what you are doing and say to yourself


Now you try...


Hopefully you didn't say it out loud, not everyone reads my blog, don't frighten people. But when those thoughts come and whisper you can't do it, you are too old or tired, you don't have time, people will laugh, no one thinks you can do it, you don't think you can do it, you will get hurt, you don't have anything to wear, and then the's just too late. None of that is true. You can get into better shape, you can lose weight if you want to. But no one can do it for you. You have to make the effort to change and you have to find the right voices to listen to. 

I admit the exercises I do sometimes feel like dating a Rubiks Cube, but that's because I haven't done anything but walk in a long, long time. Lifting weights isn't easy and getting stronger isn't happening fast, but I know it's getting better. This morning when I finished my circuits (we do 3 exercises to a circuit and there are either 3 or 4 circuits) I still had a will to live. I also know (because Anthony told me) that my recovery rate is getting better. They take our heart rates about 8 times during the workout and measure how quickly our heart rates go up and how fast they go back down. Who knew recovery time was a measure of fitness? 

Next time we start the discussion of food...which is everyone's challenge. But we are going to face it, challenge it and light it on fire!!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Squats Will Keep Me Out Of The Nursing Home

I am convinced squats will keep me out of the nursing home, and staying out of the nursing home has suddenly become job one. After my surgery and recovery I didn’t realize but I lost the ability to do certain things. 

Some very simple things....

Like easily getting up from a chair, getting up off the floor and standing on one foot. 

See how you do....

Start with getting up from a chair without using the arm rests or even putting your hands on your knees. If you have some difficulty then you probably have issues with your legs and lower body strength....weak quads. What is the best exercise for underused quads? That’s right, squats...and being able to get up easily from a chair will keep us all from the nursing home. Develope a habit of not using anything but your legs to lift yourself out of a chair.

Now getting off the floor....Your goal is to sit on the floor without touching your knees, legs, hands or arms and then get back up....unaided.

Go ahead and try it.

I’ll wait here.

Did you do it?

If you didn't, strengthening your core will help tremendously. And keep at it until you can get up and down without help. Then do it every day. The ability to get up and down from the floor is a big test of agility and agility lengthens your lifespan.

Now one more....balance. Fold your arms and raise one knee for 30 seconds. Can you do it easily? You know the commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” right? It’s imperative that we work on balance so we don’t fall. Balance is the key to staying upright and I cannot tell you how many people I know that attribute a simple fall to subsequent knee surgery, shoulder surgery or hip surgery. My dear friend Teri Daly, fitness instructor extraordinare, has her clients stand on one foot in the morning while they brush their teeth and the other one at night. Easy....nothing hard here. 

Speaking of getting up in the morning (and sometimes it is hard, right?) motivational speaker Mel Robbins gave an incredible talk about pretending NASA was in her bedroom. When the alarm goes off she counts down “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and then launches herself out of bed in order to fool her brain. After going through a really difficult period she needed to fool her brain into getting right up in the morning rather than hiding in bed.  I have incorporated getting up from a chair with her rocket blast launch. I feel kind of powerful as I jump up from my chair - arms raised like Superman. It really does fool your brain into thinking you are way more powerful than you really are.

If you fall short on these little tests don't worry, the great thing about our bodies is it's never too late. Last week we found out after my husband took his echocardiogram that his heart has gone from functioning at 15% to an amazing 62% in just 18 months. All from diet, exercise and some incredible medicine. It's true I have let my core go to slush, my quads are mush and my balance is sadly wanting but each day it gets better. The instructors at Biometrix have designed a program to strengthen my core which is foundational to a healthy functioning body. After the surgeon took out my chest tube and I saw that that incision I thought it was all hopeless and I was convinced I would never be the same. I won't be the same because I will be better. I am already standing straighter, my energy continues to grow and some of the exercises are getting easier. I know for a fact that only a habit can subdue another habit. My habit on fitness has been to give up when it got hard or my life got too busy. Now I understand I cannot do that any more and have the quality of life I want. You don't have to hobble after you get up from a chair, you don't have to have help getting up from the floor and you can have great balance which will give you the best opportunity to remain agile and upright. Get strong, it's not too late, and you will be so happy you did.

My new mantra really is....

"Squats will keep me out of the nursing home"

Biometrix is partly subsiding my journey to fitness! And the trainers there are carefully trained to get you strong without you getting hurt or even too sore. It has been a remarkable experience.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Wall Ball, the Kettle Bell, a Focus Group and Me

It's fun to have so many people following my wellness journey, the support and interest have been wonderful. I admit the road has been filled with challenges and changes, but I learn something new every day. Changing the way I think and speak about wellness has not been easy but I am determined to change.
What I do know is it doesn't matter how much I can do, it only matters that I keep doing what I can and the results will follow. This week was easier because I have seen improvement, and improvement  (no matter how small) gives me hope.
  • Last Sunday night I realized I wasn't as tired as usual. Tremendous fatigue has plagued me since my surgery so the extra energy is easy to feel.
  • My knee doesn't hurt as much as it did.
  • I move better and faster....I literally walk faster without thinking about it.
  • I inherently know I can do more and now when I have a full day ahead I don't dread it as much as I did.
Also I have something called morning hypertension. My blood pressure is higher in the morning than any other time and it must have contributed to my aortic event. For years I thought my blood pressure was fine because I only took it at the doctors office and not when I first wake up. I started taking my husbands blood pressure when we woke up and I just took mine out of curiosity. It was a shocking discovery, his was fine but mine was pretty high. This morning it was substantially lower, relief!

Another thing I learned about is we all have challenges with exercise and diet.  During the focus group for Biometrix the number one thing the other members stated is without the constant support from the trainers and other staff members they wouldn't be doing what they are doing. We all need accountability and support, and I thought it was just me....

This innocuous item is called a wall ball. my children talk about wall balls all the time, it's no big deal, right? But then I did it.

It's easy he said.

Just pick it up and throw it against the wall while you squat he said.

Piece of cake he said.

I took a deep breath and picked that sucker up and as I threw it against the wall my finger got caught in the little tab on the side causing it to go flying behind me the entire length of the gym. As I chased after it I kept thinking,"this isn't how he showed me, this isn't how he showed me, this isn't how he showed me".

You'll notice I did not put that on my bullet list of improvements.

I have been using the kettle bell this week and it makes me feel like I am spraying incense each time I swing it and each time I swing it I wonder the same thing..."whose idea was this?"

I spent time with the dietician earlier in the week where I mentioned I need more accountability.

"What does that look like to you?" he asked.

"A SEAL team with time on their hands and the ability to restrain me in an enclosed area. They will need guns equipped with night vision in case I attempt to eat what I shouldn't, but only when I'm awake."

"No really"


Food is just a challenge, I eat when I'm hungry, when I'm mad or happy. I eat with friends, alone and with strangers. I eat because I'm bored or I want to avoid something. What can I say? It's a weakness, but weaknesses can become me!

Speaking of sharing and when don't I? What is your favorite healthy snack and best breakfast? Help me write this story...

Ready? Go!!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Cooking Shows!!!

My husband watches cooking shows...most of them...I do not.

There is nothing wrong with cooking shows but in my convoluted mind food is to be hidden as we eat it, as in in "who ate the last piece of pie?" or sometimes..."who ate the pie?" But on the food channel they are eating all day, all the time, right there in front of everyone. There is a guy who regularly eats food prepared by people who look as though they cook for a carnival on a show called "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". And the food is everywhere! Here is the down side, inevitably they will make something my husband will want the recipe for and that problem turns into a Fellini movie every time. He starts yelling at me to come to the den. I race in to find he can't get the TV to record so he can watch it several million times in order to make it. A huge fight ensues complete with hand gestures because of his very loud concern he will miss the entire segment and the recipe for fried whatever, or glopped whatever or sauce poured over something will be lost forever, and of course that would be my fault....

As far as cooking shows go he used to like Giada but then after making some of her food they broke up. (Not enough flavor)  He never liked the "Pioneer Woman" because, well, he is from the East Coast and until he met me had no idea what grits were or that a steak could actually be "chicken fried". He has great respect for the Barefoot Contessa. Her food language is compatible with his, basic delicious food with lots of color and flavor. And the fact she looks as though she enjoys her food is the last piece of perfect for him. With the exception of Bobby Flay he does not trust a skinny chef.

Then there are the PBS shows he tapes to watch when his insomnia takes over. Martha (and her staff of thousands) has a cooking school he loves. He is always trying to make his food better and bless her heart, Martha is a great teacher. Sometimes I wish someone would tell her to just calm down, but she is good at what she does. I don't think I will ever cook like her or garden like she does, I probably won't ever build anything, refinish anything or organize anything the way she does, but one day as the Universe is my witness....I will have a staff like she does.

I believe his favorite show personality is Lidia. She is a PBS girl and looks like his mother and her sisters. Her accent takes him right back to 6 year old Ray Ray listening to his grandmother speak Italian to his father and his father speak English back to his mother. Lidia's recipes are familiar to him and the instructions are filled with words and food he remembers as a little boy. Her food to him is eating at its best, delicious and comforting.

Lidia Bastianich

Food is not complicated at our home, it is the focal point of almost everything we do. It is how we socialize, bond, and how we make a living.

Ray Ray is an artist and his pots, pans and platters are the canvases.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Journey Continues...Meeting a Challenge

 My dear friend told me after going to Biometrix for awhile that she learned a lot about herself. I kept that thought and wondered what I would learn about myself. 

Today was my first big challenge because I didn't want to go, I didn't want to work out.....I had so much to do, and I went back to my old tapes that told me work was first....

I used to listen to those tapes, but today I didn't and worked out anyway.  

After getting there I was very honest with my trainer. I told him I had forced myself to come because I had so much to do. How do I justify working out first? Isn't this hopeless anyway? Who am I kidding I can get into shape? He tells me it isn't a hard day, but a "challenging" day. He then shows me how to do today's exercises, but when I try to do them it takes several times  for my brain to formulate a plan. The first time through the circuit is usually filled with additional instruction so the process is humbling. And then I wonder how did I let myself get so far out of shape? However he never lets me speak badly of myself or give up. In the past those two things have been my go-to exercise mantras. 

It isn't easy to trust a new voice, is it?

Today this exercise reminded me of cirque du soleil performers and it kicked my trash. I thought I would fall right on my back and I did not want to do it...but....

I did it...

I am starting to believe in myself. And each time I finish a workout I feel such an accomplishment!

The other day I did the ropes which always makes me feel powerful! I conjure up JJWatts and go for it! 

This process has been challenging because I haven't done anything like it in years and it takes time to reeducate mind and body. There is a difference this time, in the past when exercise became challenging I just gave up. Now I understand what a mistake that was. 

This week I met with the doctor at Biometrix to go over my blood work. The panel is extensive and quite different from what my other doctors have asked for. My doctors have different concerns so my surgeon, cardiologist and primary care doctor ask for different panels, since they don't get together they don't all know what is going on with me. The panel this doctor requested was for everything.  As I sat across from her I was amazed, and heartened, at what she now knew about me. 

She told me my vitamin D was so low that she recommended injections to get it back up to where it should be as a hallmark of D deficiency is fatigue, and since vitamin D contributes to the absorption of calcium she said that was another reason to make sure I get that number up. But then on my own research I found Vitamin D, in addition to preventing brittle bones, breaks in the bones and development of osteoporosis, it does a lot more for overall health. The article I found suggested it helped reduce the risk of certain types of cancers (colon, breast and prostate) and also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Vitamin D also helps to improve the function of lungs and mood. I found this online and I didn't see if their cancer research was footnoted, but honestly my doctor had me at "fatigue".

The rest of my numbers were ok....cholesterol was 20 points too high and my good cholesterol was a bit out of line but that can be easily managed with diet and exercise, so overall she was happy except for one number. And that number frightens me also. It is the CRP or C-reactive Protein. Not to put too fine a point on it but it is a marker for inflammation in the body. Numbers above 3 are alarming and designates a substantial risk for heart disease. With my history, getting that number down is imperative and it was 4.5.  Something to work on for sure. 

I have said before I feel my surgeon and cardiologist are keeping me alive and I am grateful for that, but I want something more. I know as I continue this program I will get where I want to be.

My fitness goals for the coming week:
Meeting with the dietician for a revamp of my diet and then following it. (We are working with several ideas to find what will be best for me.)
Working out 3 days 
Yoga 1 day
Walking 2.5 miles 2 days
Taking all my vitamins and minerals

Personal assessment of program so far:
Knee pain almost gone
Getting up from a sitting position has significant improvement 
Strength returning in my right arm from a nasty fall - at first I couldn't even lift from that side.

I am getting better, and I will continue to get better because my long term goal is not to get into my jeans again, but to live as vital a life as I can. I have begun looking at health as my most important job, because without health nothing else will matter very much. 

Biometrix is compensating a portion of the monthly fee for my participation in the program.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Big Reveal!!

So the big reveal!

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to get into a better place physically and I am going to chronicle the entire journey.

My physical decline started when we began our business during the recession in 2011. I am sure you can relate to a life changing experience that enters your life causing everything else to reshuffle. Exercise was the first to go and eating was whatever and whenever. Our focus was our business.

Then I tore my meniscus. It took months for it to repair as I didn’t opt for surgery. I just couldn’t, my insurance was garbage and the doctors could not reach a consensus. It felt risky at best and foolish at worst. After about 6 months I was walking again and did what I did...ignored it.

Then the heart thing...

After a conversation about health with a dear friend last February I started a new line of thinking. She was leaving the country for 3 years and felt a strong impression to get stronger and healthier. We talked about it a lot but she did something about it while I kept talking.

She transformed her eating and exercise. When I tell you she simply looked incredible after a few months I am not exaggerating. And my definition of incredible is how strong and vital she became. And the enemy to all people, fatigue, was less, she simply felt so much better.

She told me about the place she was going to that brought about this change. It is called Biometrix. She explained to me that it was like a team of people completely invested in your well being.... truly a Wellness Center. People who worked together to get the most comprehensive and personalized plan you could have to help you feel better.

Part of my problem (aside from inertia) is every time I think about working out I wonder what I can do. The doctor keeps telling me my heart thing could happen again, so how far do I go? I had no idea and it was a perfect excuse for me to not do more than walk.

Everything my friend described to me sounded like what I needed, accountability, structured workouts and a nutritionist/dietician. What I was most concerned about was having people around me who knew what to do with my particular physical challenges. Before I even stepped foot inside the gym I had all my blood work done right on the premises with their specialists and their equipment. They did a full blood panel including thyroid, vitamin levels, metabolic panels, hormones and what she called preventive markers for inflammation. Want to know what inflammation looks like up close? My feet are swollen most of the time causing a resemblance to my Aunt Eunice.

Next they did an EKG, (test I am very familiar with) and then a full on dexascan which they said would not only show my bone density but BMI....body mass index or “the true reveal”. Turns out my number was pretty high, making me practically a solid. Each test was given by a patient trained specialist. I am a veteran at tests but up to this point I had not gotten any tests that were preventative. My focus is now on prevention. I had a Dexascan test last year as part of my take-every-test-there-could-possibly-be-year, but they only checked to see my bone density.

Next was my fitness test which I desperately wanted to run into the dark Nevada night to avoid. Everyone who worked there kept telling me this was my beginning. Who cares where you are right now except to have a starting point? I reluctantly agreed with them but it sadly didn’t stop me from seeing how far I was from the place I wanted to be physically. My fitness evaluation was a series of aerobic tests, with the infamous bike, heart monitor, weights, and timed tests. Suddenly I didn’t care how well I did with the tests, but concentrated on surviving the tests...which I happily did.

Now they had enough information for me to get started working out. In the gym I have someone who watches everything I do which gives me the confidence to work much harder than I ever would have. My trainer takes my heart rate several times during the workout which gives me another level of confidence and he never lets me do anything that could hurt me. They have evaluated what I can do and that is what I do. The workouts are different every time I go, incorporating aerobics with strength exercises. We have used a kettle bell, heavy ropes, weights, rowing machine, elliptical, treadmill, heavy ball, bands, that big body ball and I have only gone 5 times! One of the best parts is how quickly I am able to finish. From beginning to end it is never more than 55 minutes...often 45 minutes, three times a week. This is a huge plus for busy folks who have to carve out time for themselves.

I am only two weeks into this and what I have learned is why (I am so embarrassed to admit this) I have a difficult time getting up from a chair. My quads are so weak it is hard to hold my frame up without help. Sad? Actually scary. Also my core is so weak from the surgery I had I know it will eventually lead to back problems. And last but certainly not balance. Balance is what keeps you from falling and mine is very tenuous. Another personal marker of fear for me.

And one more thing....a therapeutic massage is included each week. The masseuse has your workout sheet for the week and she knows everything you have done. So those are the muscles she works on. Was I sore the first week? Yes I was but it was a controlled sore and not a “hurt”. I have always looked at massages as a luxury, now I see them as part of the plan of getting well.

A wellness plan for Donna and I have only scratched the surface. Each week I will honestly share my journey, and there is a great deal more to this program but I am just starting. I see my health as a job now, a true responsibility.

Biometrix is subsidizing a portion of my monthly fee for an honest assessment of the program.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Chapter 1

The last 18 months have been wonderful and challenging. I say wonderful because we are blessed to have had a wedding and 2 grand babies and our business continues to expand. 
Challenging because the opportunity to expand the business comes right after a serious heart event for me and an equally difficult health experience for my husband. 

We were familiar with “survivor mode” and simply pushed through. After all, we lived and wasn’t that the most important thing? 

Yes and no. 

Using what was left of my energy for work left me too tired to exercise. Soon I began to notice the consequences of ignoring the physical side of life which was fatigue, difficulty lifting heavy things and unsteady balance. With any health situation ignored it becomes worse and that is what happened to me. I discovered the walking I was doing for exercise was not accomplishing any of my health goals and besides I wasn’t consistent. In order to make the needle move I needed something more, something far more structured to commit to. My whole life I have been doing the same thing in embracing a new regiment. “This time! This time I will listen to my better angels! This time I will eat correctly. This time I will exercise.” And then I would let anything get in the way. From a holiday, to a cold to a sudden need to eat stale bread. I found a way to give up. To put it off yet again. Even Oprah was an excuse I used. (sorry O) but I would say to myself “if Oprah with all her money can’t do it, what makes me think I can? And besides I have a defective aorta.”That was my big excuse....”It could happen again”. Something my surgeon told me every time I went in to his office.

My doctors were keeping me alive and I appreciate that, duh, but I wasn’t really living because I was always uncomfortable. The unsteady gate as I got up from a chair was depressing, my balance that was slowly (rapidly) disappearing frightened me. And the fatigue I felt was overwhelming. Until that moment I thought this was the way getting older was supposed to be. And then I 


I can do better than this. I am better than this!I kept thinking there has to be an answer. Then a friend told me about a place she had been going to. She was getting ready to leave the country for several years and felt a need to get stronger. I congratulated her on how great she looked and then she began to explain the science and philosophy of her new regiment. One thing she said several times is how much she had learned about herself and after she learned those things she felt she could make real change in her life and keep the change. Change is hard. Make no mistake it is hard. If it had been easy I would have done it years ago. But then I began to mentally make excuses why this wouldn’t work for me. My cycle was still intact I was determined to stay stuck. 
Then I realized this quote was me...

The constant pains in my knee, my inability to easily get up from a chair, anxiety/depression and constant fatigue is not what I want, although it is certainly ‘what I got’.

Obviously what I have been doing is not working.

I have tried to find a new lifestyle path over the years I could live with, but all my diets have ended in a trash heap with resulting extra weight. Except for a time period between my second and third child, all exercise attempts have ended in failure also. 

I’m pretty confident you are feeling my pain because so many of us follow this same I right?

Over the next three months I am taking you along on my personal journey of health, exercise and change. I admit it will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. I intend to chronicle my successes and my set backs in an honest and sincere way. 

Monday is my beginning “chapter”. See you then.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tallulah! Get out the Butt Kicking Machine!

Pass the popcorn - It's showtime!!

Have you ever seen the woman running from the monster-bad guy-flooding waters-dinosaurs and always in high heels? If that isn't odd enough, she is always eaten-killed-drowned or disposed of in some tragic way or another. That's me!

These images of calamities are symbolic of my own bad health habits. These habits are threatening to destroy my goal of "aging gracefully." I have never minded getting older and believe aging is a blessing. I know because I almost died.

In the fall of 2016, I needed emergency surgery to repair my failing aorta. I've been told by medical professionals that my survival was a miracle. That statement is humbling and it challenges me to live with purpose. 

For whatever reason I was spared, I should prize my health as never before; but I haven't been able to push through the fatigue to get better. You see I view my energy as a bank deposit. I have this much energy, and I can either deposit it in a work account or in an exercise account. Since I must work, I have been putting all my energy in the business account and very little in the exercise account.

The effects of that decision have led me to a negative place. In the last 18 months, I have aged badly. And that aging has come in the form of high blood pressure, even more extra weight, fatigue and an overall feeling of despondency and discouragement. My legs hurt most of the time, I have almost no balance, and I don't want to do anything in addition to my heavy work load. But if I don't do something to change the trajectory of my life, I have very little to look forward to, and there is still so much I still want to do.

My doctors are quite brilliant, and they have done a great job keeping me alive, but I don't want to just be alive....I want adventure!!

This is where my grandmother Minnie would say, "Tallulah! (her occasional nickname for me when I annoyed her) it's time to get the butt-kicking machine out and fix this mess!"

But how?

I always say every miracle starts with a problem....

I think I have found the miracle I need, and I want to share it with you. My production won't involve too many monsters or floods, and I'm inviting you to grab some popcorn and come along for the show.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

What I Believe

A dear friend of mine writes a column for the Salt Lake City Tribune and recently wrote the most thought provoking column I have read in a long time.  Ann Cannon is one of those writers that brings emotions you love to feel.  Find her column here.  She wrote about the concept of beliefs and the ongoing "This I Believe Project" (  Ann inspired me to think about what I believe in....

I believe being surrounded by books is more comforting than macaroni and cheese

I believe the sound of my children laughing together is the best sound created.

I believe dogs are the best barometer of our worth, if your dog loves you then you are OK!

I believe hugs should be at least 9 seconds long and several times a day.

I believe older people have the best wisdom.

I believe a drum line at a football game could make you forget all your problems.

I believe good feelings from a sweet memory should be brought out and worn often.

I believe in learning, whether a formal education or simply living life, it equals the same.

I believe winning is wonderful, losing is educational, and having the right attitude about both is inspirational.

I believe Frankincense is a miracle essential oil.  Or maybe magical...whatever, it is amazing, and it works.

I believe the things you should never be without in the kitchen is a great olive oil, fresh herbs, onions, garlic and celery.  With that you can create anything.

I believe you should never make excuses for wanting to set your table with the "good stuff".  Your grandmother will be happy you did.

I believe knowing who "your people" are is important.  Know where your grandparents and great-grandparents are from and celebrate them!

I believe having a hobby and making time for it is imperative.

I believe lipstick and a strand of pearls help you feel pretty.

I believe prayer is the greatest power on earth.

I believe sitting by a fire in a comfortable chair, with a great book, watching it rain or snow is the essence of comfort.

I believe in having a favorite blanket and a favorite bathrobe.

I believe in the magical powers of a donut you bought while no one was looking.

I believe furniture finds you...

While I believe in the intelligence of order, keeping a few odd things does not clutter make.

I believe some books are holy and are filled with truth.  They make us better for having read them.

I believe God talks to us, and if we are willing to listen, our lives improve.

I believe we are all entitled to our own beliefs and deserve the respect of others as we follow the "dictates of our own conscience"

I believe making assumptions about what people are like will rob you of the potential of a great friend.

I believe the causal effect of forgiveness is intelligence.  Anger literally halts our progression and keeps us from finding the answers that are always there.

I believe in the power of words, be careful how you use them.

What are your beliefs?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Everything Is Rigged In Our Favor - Believe It

Imagine my surprise when a blog I wrote over a year ago popped up on my screen. There must be a logical reason for this sudden appearance, but I choose to believe the Universe is conspiring in my favor. There is a personal challenge I am about to start and this little written nudge made me laugh out loud. Usually my words come back to haunt me, today they came back to push me to achieve my goal. This blog was put together with the words and wisdom of others and it was good to read it again. If you are embarking on a new road today, maybe it will be just what you need. xoxo. Here it is....

A wonderful writer, speaker, philosopher and church leader Jeffrey Holland once wrote about the universal problem that hits all of us.  He said doubt, discouragement, and despair blocks our growth, dampens our spirits, diminishes our hope and leaves us vulnerable to other troubles.  His words from March of1980...
"I speak of doubt - especially self-doubt, of discouragement, and of despair.  In doing so I don't wish to suggest that there aren't plenty of things in the world to be troubled by.  In our lives, individually and collectively, there surely are serious threats to our happiness.  I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper.  That is enough to ruin anyone's day and by then it is only 6:30 in the morning.  Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W.C Fields once said, to "smile first thing in the morning and get it over with."

We come back to choice...choice of how we view everything.  

Here is a distinction F.Scott Fitzgerald once made, that "trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own" (The Crack-Up 1945)

As my friend Valerie continues to tell me, "Events are neutral" Hard to believe but so, so true.  We get to choose how we react, we really are the captain of our ships.

From his talk "For times of Trouble" Jeffrey Holland wrote of a story I love.  "Thomas Edison devoted ten years and all of his money to developing the nicks-alkaline storage battery at a time when he was almost penniless.  Through that period of time, his record and film production was supporting the storage battery effort.  Then one night the terrifying cry of fire echoed through the film plant.  Spontaneous combustion had ignited some chemicals.  Within moments all of the packing compounds, celluloid for records, film, and other flammable goods had gone up with a roar.  Fire companies from eight towns arrived, but the fire and heat were so intense and the water pressure so low that the fire hoses had no effect.  Edison was sixty-seven years old-no age to begin anew.  His son Charles was frantic, wondering if he were safe, if his spirits were broken, and how would he handle a crisis such as this at his age.  Charles saw his father running toward him.  He spoke first.

He said, "Where is your mother? Go get her. Tell her to get her friends.  They'll never see another fire like this as long as they live!"  

At 5:30 the next morning, with the fire barely under control, he called his employees together and announced, "We're rebuilding."  One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area, another to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company.  Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh by the way, anybody know where we can get some money?" (paraphrased from Charles Edison, "my most unforgettable character," Reader's Digest December 1961, pp. 175-77)
Virtually everything you now recognize as a Thomas Edison contribution to your life came after that disaster.  A disaster I think I would have not recovered from.


Remember, "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own."

Why didn't Thomas Edison quit?  What is it about some people that they never quit?  I believe William Shakespeare said it best (doesn't he always?) Remember, dear Brutus, "The not in our stars, but in ourselves"

I am reading this today with a new outlook of hope....

Monday, March 26, 2018

Norman Borlaug's Birthday...most famous man you have never heard of....

I have lived a good amount of time, enough time to see a few things that were predicted come to pass and a great many things predicted that did not come to pass.  In my teenage years I was told the oceans were doomed, the rain forests were being destroyed and we wouldn't be able to breathe again.  Zero population growth or ZPG was preached high and low.  Vitamin C is good, Vitamin C is bad.  Salt is terrible, Salt is not so bad.  Science, it seems is never settled.  

Paul Ehrlich wrote a book in 1968 called the Population Bomb.  I will give you my synopsis of the book.  Ready?  Our earth cannot possibly sustain the amount of people on it.  India will never be able to feed  itself.  Have less children or we are all going to die.  
That probably won't make the recommendations on Amazon but that's as short and succinct as I can make it.

The message from the world is this, there is no solution.  It seems the world wants you to feel hopelessness.  The frustration we feel comes from the fact that we inherently know there is truth and we yearn to find it.  Adversarial forces count on you not finding truth, always trying to keep you off balance, out of alignment, off kilter by constantly trying to convince you there is no solution.  And that means no real truth which leaves you with no real hope.
Little children are always asking, "why?" because they are instinctively searching for the truth.  Our souls need truth, truth is peace... (Another instinct of course is the urge to suck but that is another blog for another day.)

I want to get back to Paul Ehrlich who said India could not possibly feed itself.  Couldn't you make a case easily for that?  How do you feed 1.2 billion people?  Paul Ehrlich felt it couldn't be done and could not even conceive of a solution for it except to have less children (bad pun, sorry)  But then along comes an agronomist named Norman Ernest Borlaug.  He invented dwarf wheat that was disease resistant and well, short.  Taller wheat took up more room in the field because as it got taller the wheat would fall over from its own weight. Dwarf wheat takes up less room because it didn't fall over and they could double the yield.  By doubling the yield Borlaug saved the lives of a billion people. Think of that.  

As an aside, Borlaug was one of seven people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.  He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor.  That's a good days work.

So Paul Ehrlich a PhD wrote a book predicting the end of the world and scared people to death, because he lived and thought small.  Norman Borlaug, also a PhD looked at tall wheat falling over in a field taking up a lot of room and  simply invented something that would take up less room.  He fed the world because he saw possibilities which led him to a solution.

My message is simple, there is always a solution.  Doesn't that bring you more peace than, "You can't get there from here?"  

Here is your first step, start believing it.  Think of Norman Borlaug and the solution he found.  It wasn't just because he had a PhD that he was able to develop dwarf wheat, Paul Ehrlich has a PhD and all he has been able to do is frighten people.  You don't need a PhD to solve your problems.  But you do need to believe you can.

What tall wheat is getting in the way for you?  

Take that first step in believing you can solve your problem, and then watch doors open.  

Remember whatever God you pray to is a very big God who can help you develop your own dwarf wheat. You can't do it alone, but with Him you can do all things.  And if you don't believe that, I bet you would like to believe it.  

Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Talisman From Texas

My daughter had a baby Sunday night, our first grandchild. I was not prepared for the emotions the experience evoked....I thought I would be but I wasn't. First it was way harder to watch my daughter in pain, it was hard to not be a part of the process, to step back and just be a spectator but it has been very, very easy to love this little person.

Luckily for me my daughter is open to my quirky and interesting traditions, so during the easy part of her labor I realized I had forgotten the dirt. I have a jar of dirt from Texas I placed under the gurney each time I had a baby so they could be born over Texas soil. I casually mentioned it because although I wanted to go get it,  I couldn't intrude...exactly. Luckily my daughter was amiable so my husband went home to get it.

Now before you think I am completely mad, there is a some background to explain it. I was in second grade when my mother passed away and when I was in third grade my stepmother told me I was adopted. This was way before Oprah and we hadn't honed the skill of "talking things out". So when these monumental bits of information came my way I was expected to take it in but not react. After telling me my mother died, my father said, "we aren't going to talk about this any more." It was a terrible idea, but as I said it was before Oprah. For me it started a lifelong habit of my taking in big news and then filing it away never to look at it again. It was our families way to avoid pain and conflict, but like a broken leg, it can be ignored but the healing will be ineffective. I tried to do it with my heart event...yup I almost died, but I didn't so I will move on. That hasn't worked well either.

I digress...

I was 12 when we moved from Texas and it felt as though I was leaving behind who I was. Everything in my life was fluid except being from Texas. The knowledge "the Eyes of Texas were upon me" was my salvation, a sanctuary so to say from real life. So when I put the dirt under the gurney for my children it was like a blessing for them from my childhood, and then to be able to continue it with our grandbaby was just sweet. I thank my daughter and son-in-law for letting me do it. I don't intend to barge into their lives with all my talismans, customs and traditions, I most definitely intend to honor their new family with respect and gratitude. Having children is a privilege and I am happy to be a part of my children's support the person who drives the van next to the Ragnar racers (an intense relay race lasting 2 days) handing out food, water, juice and moral support...but not actually riding the bike or giving instructions as to how to ride.

Unraveling "learned behavior" isn't easy but I am determined to face life differently, to feel and then deal with emotions instead of filing them away. I will live my life with intention and action instead of letting life act upon me.

It is time.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Candied Nuts!!

Candied Nuts are something I need all the time but making them was the bane of my existence until I found the perfect recipe.

Past failures them on the stove - I always burned some of them. Baking them...I never knew how long and they were not consistently good.

Then one day, there it was!! The perfect recipe! And I am passing it along to you.

Candied nuts are fabulous in salads, or just to eat one after the other! I also substitute candied nuts in muffin or nut bread recipes. The candied aspect adds just a little extra something, and I am always looking for a little extra something.

Sooooo easy to make.

Use Walnuts or pecans -

Whip one egg white and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl until frothy

Pour the nuts in and stir until all the nuts are fast! Grab a large plastic bag and pour a mixture of one a 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (you can add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you want, but a little goes a long way) in with all your nuts and shake it until everything is covered. Once the bag was broken so my whole floor was covered....
Now put them in a parchment covered cookie sheet - you will thank me later for zero clean up using the parchment paper, plus it makes it easy to break up the nuts. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour....turn them every 15 minutes.

Ta Dahhhhhh!!

They store well in the refrigerator.....but I don't keep them long because they are so good!!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Joy To The World!!!

My favorite Christmas song is "Joy to the World!"...I especially love Mariah Carey's rendition because she includes my favorite Three Dog Night song also named "Joy to The World"....."

Joy to the fishes in deep blue sea, joy to you and me!"

I have so much to be thankful for starting with this day.

November 21, 2016 folks didn't think I would live. The surgeon gave my family a very grim prognosis. My friends told me as they sat in the waiting room the nurses looked at them with such sadness. They didn't think I would survive, I still cannot wrap my head around the fact I almost died.

But I didn' now what?

Over the last year I have recuperated both physically and mentally. Physically the body reminds you everyday what a miracle it is. I watched my scar heal (I think it accentuates my cleavage) felt myself getting stronger and simply marveled at what can occur after an almost catastrophic event. Each time I went to the doctor, they told me how well I was doing and then in September the doctor said I didn't have to come back for a year. I only take 2 medications, they have asked that I eat well and walk 30 minutes a day. That is actually harder than it seems for me....I am still working on that!

But mentally I did what I always do...think, think and overthink. To say I overthink is an understatement. In fact as soon as I woke from my surgery and everyone started to tell me what happened I began wondering why I lived. My internist spent some time with me explaining what had occurred and how I almost died. My surgeon, my nurse, and then another nurse who wasn't even helping me came in just to talk...because I had almost died. I couldn't comprehend what happened, or what to do next.

To be given another chance is the underlying theme of the best stories. What should I do with mine?
First you don't have to have a dramatic event in your life to have another chance. Each day is a new chance. The sunrise is a metaphor for a new beginning and I have found a new beginning is something we all want. Its why we do so much of what we do, we buy self help books searching for a do over, we buy new things searching for a do over....we move for a new outlook. And nature backs that up with a change of seasons...all to remind us to start over, leave what doesn't work behind and find new ways to be happier. Because being happy is the reason we are here.

Over the last year I met my biological family. To say it was one of the best days of my life is another understatement. They are the nicest most genuinely loving people I have ever met. To sum it up my brother said to me, "If I knew you were out there, I would have come looking for you." It was pure love. And a story that must be told if for no other reason to testify of the love of family.

Over the last year our business has grown and we have met and served some of the nicest people ever.

Over the last year I have spent time with friends, with my plants, my silly dogs...visited New Orleans and my beloved Texas. I toured Louisiana, the land of my people, and had as much gumbo as I could legally eat.

Last Mother's day my daughter surprised me with the news I was going to be a grandmother and my son is close to an engagement to a really beautiful girl.

Over the last year my husband had a stay in the hospital for complications from diabetes that had a very positive outcome. He is taking better care of himself and is enjoying his "do over." And he is now recuperating from double hernia surgery. We are hoping our "major medicals" are behind us.

But regardless what might be ahead for us what I intend to bring to everything is joy. Joy to the world! We all have today..a day to do great things. We can make a difference in peoples lives for the better every day. What does it take? Hardly anything...a kind word in a grocery line, ignoring someone cutting in front of you on the freeway, sending a thank you to someone, checking on someone you know needs support. Put yourself out bold in helping, don't worry if you are intruding....99% of the time you aren't and if you are then you are guilty of caring. Not a bad thing, right? And above all.....Smile!

I have stories to tell, people to love and adventures to have....I will stop wondering why I lived and simply live....but live with Joy!!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A little help from my friends....

This morning I read a sweet reply from a woman I met last year at a blogging conference. (When you have things in common and limited time you get close to people quickly.) Her post was about aging and the effects there of. I sent what I thought was a throw away line, an innocuous reply. I was feeling sorry for myself and I went on and on about how old I felt and especially older since my heart thing. I am still repairing and blah blah blah....

What she wrote back will change me forever if I let it.....if I let it.

“My friend, do whatever you can to remain upbeat. You are young and healthy in so many other ways. Bodies can compensate. If you don't overdo, but just stay active, rested, and properly nourished, both in body and soul, you can improve. I say this because I saw you in 2016 and nobody with that much light radiating from them can be held down for long. Don't let your fears win. Think of my mom. She's 92 and broke her leg 5 years ago, a bad femur break. They put a rod in but it never healed, because she is very old. In spite of that, she is radiant. Systems do wear out, but you are too young for that to happen. So take care of yourself and have faith in the organism - bodies will fight to survive and thrive if you nurture them.”
 Lynne Morgan Spreen from Any Shiny thing - Life after 50

My friend Amy Ayoub from the Zen Speaker told me Monday to write words filled with light. Write words filled with light. 

To say I am blessed to have such amazing friends is an understatement, find these people in your lives.

 I recently read from Brene Brown that it doesn’t matter what side of the conversation you are on if you are filled with hate it is the same. Regardless of where you place your words fill them with light.

Sharon Eubanks says that “Creativity and innovation are gifts....ask for them.” Innovation will assist you every day, creativity will bring out the best in your life....use them.

Gordon B. Hinckley said, : “You don’t … build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.”

Last years heart thing caused a great deal of change in my life and  I will keep changing. One thing I do know I will be able to move forward with creativity, innovation, problem solving and hope with a positive spirit.

Thanks Lynne.....Thanks Amy...

Love my friends.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Very Good Among Us

As the numbness wore away from the shootings Sunday night the people in our community simply said, "What can we do?" It's a sentence that has been uttered a lot lately, from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico...People want to know what they can do. It's inherent to want to help and we have seen it over and over again.

We saw it in Houston as people were rescued and when those people were rescued they went back and rescued others

We saw it in Florida...and now in Puerto Rico.

The awful shooting from Sunday night showed people at their best, and as their stories are told you will see how truly courageous they were. People with trucks loading victims up and taking them to the hospital, using police barricades as stretchers, refrigerators as bunkers. Strangers making tourniquets for bleeding strangers. It happened over and over again.

The Sheriff mentioned blood was needed and immediately the lines were blocks long.  They aren't even taking more blood until Thursday. So people showed up to feed the folks standing in the blood lines! 

Everyone found some way to serve.  

A request went out about noon that Ronald McDonald house needed supplies for the 80 family members of shooting victims staying there. About 200 people showed up with food, blankets, stuffed toys and more foods and in 1 hour we filled the backs of 3 trucks and an entire trailer. That happened all over the valley...Ronald McDonald House was overwhelmed and several other organizations benefited from the overflow.
I don't worry about mankind, when faced with real problems they show exactly what they are made of. Their Godlike qualities show through.

People are good. We might have been reminded of how precarious life is, but we were also reminded of how good life is. And how very good people can be.

Live your life looking to help and serve.
Write words that are filled with light.
Be Kind

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And all I did was stop to help....

You would have done the same thing if you saw an elderly woman with a walker trying to flag people down. It was about 7:30 at night on a quiet road near my home. I did the only thing a person would do, I made a U-turn to see if I could help. She said. "I just want to go to 7-11, would you take me there?" Only Caligula would have declined so I loaded her walker in the back helped her into the front seat all the while wondering what I was doing....and what she was doing. She must need milk or something is all that was going through my head.

I start...."7-11 is pretty far, what do you need there?" I'm thinking, It's July, it's the desert, it's so hot...this is crazy.

She was a very nice looking older woman, stylish jeans, knit pink top, adorable straw hat with a scarf to match. So I was quite surprised by what came next. She began with an assessment of her situation which was 2 artificial legs and 2 fingers on one of her hands. Also a husband she hates with all her heart because she suddenly showed evidence of a previous longshoremen career. The number of swear words she packed into one sentence describing him was impressive. And not just the toe stub ones....the full on rap music ones.

It might have been the most incongruous moment of my life,

I also realized when she started speaking happy hour had long begun and I was probably on a beer run. And then I family is never going to believe this.

When we arrived at 7-11 I told her I would go in to get whatever she needed. She seemed relieved and handed me money with instructions to buy the yellow topped Chardonnay.

Yellow topped Chardonnay? Does 7-11 sell wine? I rarely go beyond an occasional Mountain dew and kit kat bar, so I went to the coolers to look for the wine. Sure enough there was wine! I chose 2 bottles of yellow topped Chardonnay and it was within the budget my new friend had provided. I quickly looked around to see how many people were there I knew because I was all ready to tell them "the funniest story!" I knew I was either in a Fellini movie or a Stephen King novel...time would tell.

I quickly went to the checkout line hoping to put an end to this escapade. But not quite yet.... the woman at the front of the line was also buying 2 bottles of Yellowtail Chardonnay. (Seriously? what are the odds?) She was having a disagreement with the checkout guy over the price of Yellowtail Chardonnay. She insisted it was 2 for $8, she was so insistent he had to make a call to someone to check. Even with a line that was now twisting around the store, she was not backing down and insisted it was 2 for $8. Not only am I buying Chardonnay at 7-11 but it is on sale, 2 for $8. She turns around sees I am buying the same thing and proudly tells me not to worry she is going to get this wine for us at the reduced price. All I can manage is, "Thank you so much" all the while hoping no one I know walks in because if there was ever a time for doing good deeds in private it was this one.

After finally getting to the front of the line, surviving the cold stare of the check out guy who has to sell more mismarked wine 2 for $8 I proudly get in the car with my purchase. Finding a deal seems to please me no matter what the circumstances so I think she will be delighted as well. I imagine her saying, "you wonderful woman! Thank you for providing me and my no good husband with enough wine to last us all week!"

Uh no....she is furious. That adorable straw hat does nothing to soften her anger at the 2 bottles of wine I have purchased.

"What am I going to do with that?" she practically screams at me.
"Wait, it's Yellow topped Chardonnay, isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted the little bottles I can just guzzle, that's too big! What can I do with that?" My vision of a couple of wine glasses, this delicious product, and some cheese must not have been her vision. She was highly incensed and I realized it was a Stephen King novel. I'm thinking if I don't make any sudden moves everything will be ok.
So I offer, "No problem! I will take it right back in and find the little bottles you can guzzle"
She calmed down and off I went wondering when this was going to be over.
I found 2 little bottles at $1.99 and convinced the beleaguered check out guy to swap it out and back to the car I went.

Happiness....I had completed the, where does she live? I couldn't remember where I picked her up and I am not sure she knows where she is either. But the Scarlet O'Hara comes out in me and I calmly ask her where she would like to go now.....oh please know where you want to go.
"Take me to the bathrooms at the park." Not exactly what I anticipated but ok there is a destination in that sentence, so good....
I start driving and she asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the park."
"This is the wrong park."
"OK, which park?"
"The one on Gowan."
To myself I think there's a park on Gowan? I had no idea...Where is the park on Gowan?
Then she says, "It's ok, you can drop me off anywhere" Well, I know where that is, so I pull over and she impatiently looks at me and says..."Can't you take me to the park?" I ask her, "A park on Gowan? How about if we just drive over to Gowan and look until we find the park?" That appealed to her so after driving quite a while we finally find the park. Yes! I drop her at the bathrooms, but not close enough the first time so on my second effort I get her walker out of the back of the car, situate her things and bid her goodbye...

Lucy Ricardo would have been so proud....