Monthly Archives: January 2013

To Say or Not to Say?

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This post was adapted from How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?, an article I wrote for a local women’s publication in recognition of February 1 as National Wear Red Day.  I have added some questions for you at the end.

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How many times, figuratively or in reality, have you held the hand of a girlfriend, sister or daughter whose heart was broken?  You knew it was coming; you told her long ago this relationship was not going to be good for her.  Now you put all that to the side to help her pick up the pieces and move on.

You do this without thinking when your loved one has an emotionally broken heart.  But do you care as much for the condition of her physical heart?  You would warn her without ceasing if you feared the man in her life was going to kill her.  Do you tell her that her relationship with cigarettes or unhealthy foods or her favorite chair may do the same?

Heart disease is more deadly to us than all forms of cancer combined.  It rips our mothers, sisters, daughters and dearest friends from our lives.  None of us escapes the pain of these losses unscathed.  But we can help stop it and the sooner we begin, the better.

Call your favorite girls together and have what could be the most important heart-to-heart talk ever.  Your agenda?  “Life’s Simple 7”.  Start with: eat better.  Feed your physical heart what it needs.  Knowing you are doing so will feed your emotional heart.  Get moving.  Make being active together what you do when you get together and do it often.  Stop smoking.  Yes, it’s hard, so help each other.  Fight this battle now while you are in control.  Don’t wait until you are in the back of an ambulance or in the cardiac care unit.

If you will make real progress on these first three, the next four will happen so much more easilyControl your cholesterol.  This means having your cholesterol checked by a medical provider, not leaving the office until you understand what the numbers mean and what else you need to do (or help your girlfriends do) to get those numbers where they need to be, and then doing those things.  Manage your blood pressure (BP).  If you are not already managing your BP, then your BP is managing you.  Consistently high blood pressure over time is deadly; it has more than earned its reputation as the silent killer.  Lose weight.  Understand the many benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight and learn what that range is for you.  If you are five feet eight inches tall, what would be a healthy weight range for you is not going to be the same as it is for your best friend who may be five feet, three inches tall.  And this is not about what your backside or thighs look like in a bathing suit, it’s about what the inside of your arteries look like and how much effort your heart has to make to pump blood.  Finally, reduce your blood sugar.  How many of your loved ones or friends have diabetes or pre-diabetes?  Being diagnosed as a diabetic automatically earns you the status of being a cardiac patient as well.  This is not the kind of “two for the price of one” deal you want to redeem.

February 1, 2013 is the 10th Annual National Wear Red Day, part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement.  February is also observed as American Heart Month.  Let these observances be a reminder of how important it is to care for your physical heart and the hearts of the girls and women you love.

How do you mend a broken heart?  By doing everything you can to keep that heart from breaking in the first place.

Now – my question to all of you reading this, female or male:  do you think we should say anything to our loved ones about their habits/behavior that puts their health in peril?  How much should we say?  Or should we mind our own business? 

Thanks for Calling Me Out

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Do you remember the last time you were “the new kid on the block”?  Maybe you started a new job, moved into a new neighborhood or joined a new club or organization.  Even as an adult, you experience that weird combination of feeling like everyone knows who you are because you are NEW, but feeling invisible (and lonely) at the same time.

Starting a blog and joining the blogging community is a little like this.  You create this presence in cyberspace and pour yourself into it, feeling very NEW and awkward at what you are doing; wondering if anyone knows you’re there or cares.

I’ve only been writing here for seven months.  A variety of readers have stopped by and some have been repeat visitors, which is so encouraging!  But I felt like the new girl at school being invited to join a group eating together in the lunchroom when I was recognized by a fellow blogger, Maddie Cochere, of Breezy Books.  Maddie nominated me for one of her blogging awards, The Versatile Blogger.

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I’ve learned a lot about blogging by reading her blog as well as some others.  One of the nicest things about the bloggers I’ve come across on WordPress is that they “call each other out”, but in a complimentary way.  They link to other bloggers, which encourages the reader to go check out that person as well.  They help each other, encourage each other and basically treat each other the way we should treat anyone who is new to our community.

So I want to thank Maddie for “calling me out” on her blog!   It made my day.  Now my job is to share 7 things about myself, so here they are:

I love to laugh and am the first to admit my sense of humor is a little “off”.

I like to sing.  My car is my studio.

I am an avid reader – four eyes would be so helpful!

I like to bake sweet things and then share them with others so I don’t eat them all myself.

I enjoy watching college basketball (which I am doing as I write this).

Those terrible commercials with the pets behind bars, unadopted, about to be put down, make me cry.

I love a who-done-it, action packed, murder mystery movie.

In addition, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.  I have to ask forgiveness on this one because I don’t have enough time to read 15 other bloggers!

I think that will be my goal for this year – work on getting to know 15 new people through their writing and making a point to “call them out” here – doing my part to help build the community.

Delightfully Discombobulating

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Last post I issued an invitation to Mother Nature and someone passed it along, because she visited us this week.  First, two days of cold, yukky rain and then last night – SNOW!

The weather forecasters were on overdrive, predicting when it would start, how much we’d get, possible power outages.  I think they must go to training classes with the same people who talk about the products for sale on QVC.  Who knew so much could be said about so little?!

Because we don’t get a lot of snow around here, we kind of lose our minds.  You have to avoid any place that resembles a grocery store.  We react to snow or ice predictions as if we were facing the Great Depression with money still in the local bank.  Several school systems let out early – though not the first flake had fallen.

No wonder someone shared this on Facebook last night.snow pic fb

It started after dark.  We were in our basement den where you can’t see anything through the windows at night.  I went upstairs for something, looked out the window and was pleasantly surprised to see a white yard.  (We have more than our share of false alarms for snow – I believe it when I see it.)  I turned on the outside lights at the deck and the snow was swirling around in the wind. snow on deck

I picked up my cell phone, took a couple of pictures and went back downstairs.  Without saying anything, I pulled the picture up and handed my husband the phone.  He looked at it a minute and then asked somewhat incredulously, “Is that our deck?”  He got up and turned on an outside light so he could see the snow falling.   There’s just something magical about it.  Then we had some snow thunder, followed by lightening.  The weather folks got it right!

This morning, it was the usual schedule for me.  As the sun began to rise over the lake, I had to take another picture.  This time of the morning is so quiet and calm.  As I drove to work, I soaked up the view as the sun rose and glazed the tree tops, the gray white snow beginning to glow with a combination of pink and orange.  This post began to write itself in my head.

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Best of all, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day.  Coats came off and you could hear the drip, drip, drip of melting snow everywhere.  The dull overcast sky gave way to that beloved Carolina blue. snow blue sky 2

Tonight, the roads are mostly clear.  There will be some ice in the morning and I’ll trek through the grass to get the newspaper.  Our shaded driveway will be an icy slope until Sunday when the temperature will be back in the 50’s.

Then this will all be a memory.

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Either Mother Nature has totally forgotten about us OR she is toying with us, preparing to blow us out with winter weather.  It reached 72 degrees here today and that’s warm even by southern standards.  It is JANUARY for goodness’ sake!

However, there is no reason to waste a weekend in my preferred temperature range, so my wreath-making friend Robin and I took off for the the Farmer’s Market yesterday afternoon.  This is a wonderful regional market and in the summertime, it is packed with farmers and shoppers.  Yesterday, there were only 5 or 6 vendors there, but a steady group of shoppers.  I came home with some locally grown apples, some red sweet potatoes that look like fingerlings and 2 heads of cabbage collards.collards 2

If you don’t prep and cook fresh collards, you need to know it’s a commitment!  I only buy them when I’m willing to give up the couple of hours it takes to clean them, cut them and then get them in the pot for about an hour.  That’s what I did this afternoon and we had them for dinner tonight with grilled steak.  YUM!

If you want to give them a try, I have 2 favorite recipes you could consider.  The quicker to prepare one is from Emeril ; the other is from the Neely’s (Food Network).

Emeril’s recipe (like how I refer to him as if we’re great friends?) calls for them to be cooked about 15 minutes or so, but I usually leave them on for 45 minutes.  That gives me time to have a glass of wine before dinner’s ready.  I also use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar.

If you need to know you’ll have lots of flavor besides the taste of the greens, try the Neely’s recipe – Boozy Braised Greens.  And if you just don’t like them, drink the bourbon and go out!

If you have a favorite greens recipe, share it.  I like to try new ones and my husband will eat anything.

Please send Mother Nature our way if she’s tormenting your section of the world right now.  Last winter’s mild weather turned into a “hot as the hinges of hell summer,” with sauna-like humidity and way too many snakes.  We need some cold weather and at least one snowfall would be lovely.

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Living Vicariously

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Mt. EverestStraddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet.

Today’s Post a Day Challenge – start a post with the first line of your favorite book – is a perfect example of me living vicariously.  Isn’t that one of the qualities of a really good book?  Family and friends know that I am not a cold weather person and have never been to China, Nepal or Tibet.  What they may not know is this is the first line of one of my favorite books:  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.   It is an account of a multi-team climb on Mt. Everest that included a crew filming for an IMAX production.  I  knew the ill-fated outcome of the climb before I read the first word.  That made no difference.  I was captivated from the start and could hardly tear the book from my hands when the plane landed.  I’m sure I was up reading into the wee hours of the morning.

The first time I read the book, I was flying to Chicago to spend a couple of days with my college roommate.  As the pilot announced the cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, I remember looking out the window and imagining I could see the crest of Mt. Everest, about 1000 feet down.  I had one of those hair-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck shivers.

When the IMAX production came to Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC, my husband and I went to see it.  What I had read in the book collided with the incredible footage on the screen.  Awe and agony; I knew what was coming but couldn’t force myself to look away.

I have no desire to climb Mt. Everest, but I was fascinated with the process one goes through to prepare for and climb it.  I read and re-read the sections on what happens internally when our bodies are in that kind of altitude and under that type of stress.  I felt the anxiety of the family members waiting at home.  I felt anger with the stupidity/narcissism of some climbers that endangered the lives of others.  I felt like I was there.

It was a great book and definitely worth a look if you haven’t read it.

Resolved

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Last month it seemed as if every press release, article and Facebook post I wrote in my work as a health educator had to do with making New Year’s resolutions.  We love a new start in life, don’t we?  And we like making that new start at the beginning of some unit of time – the beginning of the week, the month or the year.

As I began 2012, I promised myself (swore to myself) that I was going to change my work life.  I spent more time than any sane person should just contemplating what I wanted in a typical day.  Then I spent more time thinking about and listing what I really enjoyed doing in my current profession, what I could possibly carry over into my new life that could earn money and new skills I’d be willing to learn to make money.  I do want to continue eating, among other things, in this new life.

The upshot of all that reflection was the understanding that I don’t want a typical day.  Now, I am a firm believer in the value of routine, especially when another area of life is in total chaos.  But for awhile at least, I’d like each day to be very different.  Some days starting with a workout, others with work responsibilities, still others with several cups of coffee, conversation with a good friend or the newspaper.

Writing this blog was step one in my makeover.  Step two was coming up with some other possible ways to make money (that are not illegal or immoral, even though that could be really fun).  A friend and I have some ideas we are working on now and the possibility of success is looking good!  Another friend/former colleague and I are talking about some things we can do together as well.  Two totally different options that will get me closer to the “no typical day” work life I want.  And I fully intend to try to do both, since I will be in control of my time.

Next up is doing the paperwork to take advantage of an early retirement package.  This offer (may also be read as:  push to get more of us to leave) is only good until June of this year.  My husband and I have crunched the numbers for months, refinanced our home and done a few other things to make it possible for me to make this change.  I will be signing the papers next week.  I’ve been alternating between thrilled and terrified, but the needle on the emotional gauge is slowly and surely leaning toward thrilled.

So, while my resolution from last year has not been completed, I’m well on my way and for the first time in a long time, I am EXCITED about my professional future.  My inspiration, when this process seemed to be crawling backward and progress was nowhere to be seen, came from a little collection of 365 daily sayings that sits on my kitchen table.  Several years ago I was in a car wreck.  It’s a good story on its own.  Some (insert your own descriptive term or use mine) knucklehead made an appointment to test drive a used car, got in the car with the owner, then forced the owner out and took off in his newly stolen vehicle.  While making haste on one of our city streets, he decided to go through a red light at the same time I was going through the green light.  The result:  two demolished vehicles, me to the hospital and he to jail.  Fortunately my injuries were not major and my family and friends showered me with love.  One of my sisters sent this inspirational calendar and I read the day’s quote/saying aloud at dinner almost every night.  I call it “today’s word.”  calendar

The entry for January 1 is in the picture.  It reads:  “People will be more impressed by what you finish than by what you start.”  It’s a great way to remind myself that while the starting point of any new venture may be exciting, it’s the finish that really matters.

My wish for you?  That no matter how many times you start or restart an effort this year, you will find yourself at the end of this year having finished it.