Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Note: I wrote this about a year ago, but wanted to find some funny graphics to include with the text. Then I got distracted. Oops.

When I am feeling anxious, down, out of sorts - hell, let's call it like it is - depressed, I try to focus on the positive things in my life to remind myself that things could be worse. Like, a LOT worse.

Most of what I focus on is visceral and base in nature: I have food, clean water, warmth, shelter, family, friends, education, opportunities, wine. For these gifts, I am always and forever grateful. These blessings are not lost on me nor under appreciated in the least. A lot of the time this gentle reminder to myself is enough.

But sometimes I like to go deeper and be more personally specific. As I see myself aging, at first it made me feel panicked and desperate and sad. But as of late, I feel the want to allow myself to look at the wrinkles, and the changes in my skin, hair, body. 

When I hear someone say, "Getting old sucks", I always think, "It's better than the alternative!" I say it out loud on occasion, but I usually try to I censor myself and just keep it trapped in my skull, because in some situations, it would be lost on the audience. Sometimes it would just be cheesy or annoying.

Tonight I caught my own glance in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth. My initial reaction was negative; my mascara from yesterday is still smeared around my eyes, my skin looks dull and crepey, the gray hair around my temples is showing. Then I quickly reminded myself that I am super freaking lucky to be at this point in my life. I looked at myself again, forcing myself to look with love. This time I saw a softness around my eyes borne of hard work in the sun, late nights up laughing and crying with loved ones, worry for those that I see struggling but whom I can not help, other than to sit by and wait or simply send up a prayer, good intention, healing vibration. I saw a tiredness that comes from concern, love, and hoping for the best for those closest to me, and for the entire universe. 

The moral of my story? Cut yourself some slack, get some beauty rest, and when you get up tomorrow, do your best right out of the gate. An object in motion wants to stay in motion. 

Monday, February 10, 2014


Tickle in throat
Chest begins to feel heavy and burny
Slight fatigue and neck aches set in
Tickle, burn, fatigue, and aches intensify and spread, ever so slowly
Make it through the day on PMA and force of will
Return home, relieved to have had a successful day
Fatigue and aches get a good roll going
Still hungry, needing fuel, but not really interested
Husband makes herbal tea and a healthy meal with minor assist from me
Food tastes good, but discomfort increases in kind with fullness of stomach
Struggle to find a comfortable position
Food finally settles and the stomach pain ebbs
Body relaxes a bit and then warmth creeps into my cheeks
Then my eyelids
Then my ears
The top of my head
Fatigue is pulling me down
Aches dig deeper, down from neck, into back
Up from neck into skull
Down from back into hips
Sink into bed, buried in layers
Hoping for restorative sleep

Friday, November 29, 2013

Little ball of fur.

She's going to live forever, you know. At least that what she's demonstrating. She's almost 18 years old, which is ancient in cat years. 

But she still clambers her way into bed with me at night to snuggle under the covers. Even though she can't see properly. Or hear much of anything. She still manages to hop up on the couch to snuggle with whomever finds the time to settle in for a few minutes. 

She is even demonstrating the ability to accept new things. Like the dog that we've had in our home for 4 1/2 years. They have occupied the same space, touching each other, for two or three nights in a row now. This is new and exciting and the enormity of it has not escaped the humans in this house for even one second.

In this season of thankfulness, I am thankful for the deep, rich, complicated relationship that we have had with our beautiful feline companion for the last 17 years. I am sending a big, loud "THANK YOU!!!" to the Universe and Dawn Boeheim for bringing us all together.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Seems legit.

I took this quiz on a whim and the results were actually pretty spot on,  so I thought that I would share it here and see if anyone else wanted to take it and see what they thought of their results.  What color is YOUR aura? :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cue the Rocky theme song.

I was weighed-in and measured this past Sunday in order to participate in a fitness challenge. I have never done this before. The path to the decision to do it now has been a long one...

I am only up between 5-10 pounds of my comfortable weight - the weight that I feel best at physically and emotionally. However, my fitness level has taken a hit over the last 10 or 11 months. To be honest, my fitness has been gradually getting worse every year since I got pregnant 13 years ago. While this may be normal, I DO NOT like it. When I am not properly feeding and exercising myself, I have less energy, am more prone to mood swings and depression, easier to anger. And, conversely, the healthier I eat and the more I exercise, my mood lifts significantly. 

These consequences of activity and diet are all very obvious and logical, but sometimes I forget. Until all of a sudden, I am barely squeezing into my clothes, have no ambition or motivation, don't want to go anywhere, feel self-conscious, frustrated, angry, depressed. Stuck.

I was at that point a few weeks ago. Again. For the bajillionth time. I weighed myself on a scale at work and found that I had gained two pounds in the two weeks since I had weighed myself on that same scale. (I do not have a scale at home because I struggled with eating disorders for 15 years, and it would be a bad idea for me to have full access to a scale.) Now, two pounds is not a lot in and of itself, but in two weeks, that is not a good trend. It also put me at my highest lifetime non-pregnant weight. 

I am still at what is considered a healthy weight, but I was not FEELING healthy. I had been eating crappy food and barely getting any exercise. The few times that I did manage to force myself to excercise, it didn't feel good at all because of my lack of fitness. 

So, I started to try to get back into a healthy routine by doing a couple of yoga routines from the fitness channel, and walking the dog 5-6 times a week, and squeezing in a run or two. I stopped eating anything with gluten in it. I stopped eating french fries. And potato chips. Fried potatoes are a major weakness of mine. :/

The yoga routines were tough on my currently inflexible body, but I noticed that doing them lifted my mood immediately!

Being gluten free was making a huge difference, too. I was no longer feeling bloated. I was less moody. I was more productive and clear-thinking.

So, this brings me back to The Challenge.  I was trying these things on my own, but with minor success. There were improvements, but it was difficult to stay motivated. I was not making much progress, and felt as though it would be too easy to slip back into bad habits. 

Then, about a week ago, my dear friend Kristie asked a few of her friends if they were interested in participating in a 6 week weight loss / fitness challenge. She told us that the challenge was being run by a trainer who put the plan together. She would be tracking our progress over the next 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks, the person who has lost the largest percentage of body weight wins $150 or free group sessions with the trainer. There was a $50 charge to enter, which included a comprehensive nutrition plan, 4 full workouts, and weigh-ins every other week. 

I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to join in. While it sounded promising, I did not know enough about what was being offered in the workouts and nutrition plan to make an educated decision.

I have learned a lot on my own about nutrition and exercise as a 25+ year vegetarian, sometimes vegan, recently gluten-free, always health-conscious person. 

What I was lacking was focus and motivation. This challenge offered that. A little healthy competition can work wonders, right??!! 

I did not decide until 7:00 am on the morning of the weigh-in that I would, indeed, participate. I had to get up early to go to work anyway, and the gym was less than two miles from the office I was working at. Those coincidences made the decision for me. The instant I made up my mind to do it, the doubt cleared and I was excited to get started!

It has only been two days, but I am feeling better and more motivated already. I am keeping an exercise and food journal and following the nutrition guidelines to the letter. I went for a faster-than-usual three mile run yesterday. I had a crazy morning and afternoon of errands and appointments today, plus it was over 90 degrees out most of the day, so I haven't exercised yet, but it is starting to cool off *a bit*, so I am going to walk the dog and then an easy paced 3 mile run. Tomorrow I will try a workout from the fitness app that the trainer suggested. It looks like fun!

Do you struggle with motivation and keeping healthy? Do you notice correlations between your diet and your mood? Your activity level and your mood? Do you have health problems that make exercise and good nutrition difficult to maintain? If so, have you found ways to modify exercises or diet to improve your health? 

I will keep this updated as I continue with the plan. I am hopeful that it will help me to instill some good habits, and break some bad ones. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yes, THAT Melanie!

I wrote in my last post about a bunch of notable events that happened last Tuesday.  I was full of happiness and anticipation from the very start that day, because I knew that, that evening, I would be going with my mom and daughter (YAY!) to see Melanie Safka (WOW!!) at a local cafe / bar / restaurant called Lovin' Cup.  
I have been to Lovin' Cup several times to see my husband play in various bands, and to see other friends' bands play there, too.  The food is delicious, the coffee drinks are great, and it is a smaller venue (maximum capacity of about 225 people) so I knew that we would have a nice meal before the show, and that there would be a great view, and we would not be a mile away from the stage like we would be at a much larger auditorium or theater setting.  

But the best, most exciting thing was that I was going to be in close proximity to, and be able to be entertained by, an artist that I have LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED for literally as long as I can remember. 

We didn't have a lot of luxuries or distractions when I was growing up, but we had the great outdoors to explore, and we had music. 

My mom played Melanie's records when I was very young, and when I got to be in middle school and junior high I played them over and over, singing to every song at the top of my lungs.  I loved the sound of her voice, the music that accompanied it, and the moody, soulful lyrics which she offered to my angst-ridden heart.
This image of Melanie, from her Photograph album, immediately takes me back to a very specific place and time in my life.  Oh, she is so lovely...
The show was set to start at 8:00pm.  Mom, Ariel, and I went early (6:00pm) in order to get decent seats and to have dinner before the show. We ended up about three rows back from stage right.  Not bad!  

We ordered dinner from a delightful waiter with lots of flair on his shirt.  

We talked amongst ourselves excitedly.  

We ate (delish!). 

Then we waited.  It seemed to take FOREVER for 8 o'clock to arrive!  

I had not seen any recent photos of Melanie.  I had no idea what she looked like these days.  When she came out and walked to the stage it was a thrill to see her beauty and humor radiating from behind her wild head of (now partially streaked with gray) hair.  
Sorry about the crappy phone pictures.

A handsome young man came out with her, whom she later introduced as her son, Beau!  He sat in a chair beside her and accompanied her with various stringed instruments that looked mostly like guitars, but were somewhat medieval looking. He played at times with demonic speed, and other times with tender grace.
Beau Jarred Schekeryk

Melanie stood throughout the performance and played a Rainsong guitar that, at least from a distance, looked exactly like the Rainsong my husband has (minus a few dings).

She immediately started making connections with people in the audience, beginning the set with the song Beautiful People.  Here are a few lines that really struck me, and set the tone for the entire night:
And I'd gather everyone together for a day
And when we're gathered
I'll pass buttons out that say
Beautiful People
Then you'll never be alone
'Cause there'll always be someone
With the same button on as you
Include him in everything you do
In between songs, she made silly comments and laughed with the crowd as she looked from face to face.  I just sat and reveled in her dusky voice which had grown even more fascinating over the years. I made a conscious effort to allow myself to be fully present in this once in a lifetime experience.  I studied her mannerisms and smile, and the way she interacted with Beau.  He was was quietly sweet, supportive, and loving toward her.  Darling!

At one point she spoke about the death  in 2010 of her beloved husband and producer, Peter Schekeryk.  In so doing, she let us in, further connecting with the intimate group of people in that room.  Her emotion was raw and real.  I could feel her loss... and her healing.

Her storytelling and playfulness with the audience made the evening feel special, magical, as if she were there just to make ME happy!

She played a lot of songs that were newer and which I had never heard before, but I truly enjoyed each one.  It is rare for me to enjoy so many songs by a single artist, especially when so many were completely unfamiliar.

One of the songs, I Tried to Die Young, had me in tears for the entire song:
There where demons, I know them
And they still come by
But we’ve become friends, my demons and I
Now I’m the old girl I never thought I’d become
Does it get any better asks the little girl in my song
I’m still learning the answers so I make up things, you see
She laughs, you’re still the same and you never kill me

My mom yelled out a request for I am Not a Poet, and Melanie obliged:
Every note's an answer, every word's a sign
Every man's a dancer, following his own time
I've found a tearful language that translates what I am
And I cried out loud, but they didn't understand
I cried so hard I may never try again
No I may never try, I may never try again
*THUD*  Heart-wrenching.

Towards the end of the evening, Melanie performed a song called Smile.  She had us do some audience participation: singing along with the chorus, which was perfect for this happy, love-one-another tune:
[Said with a snarl, in a snarky French accent, referring to the time she spent in France at the beginning of her career]“I don’t trust the American smile. They smile for nothing.
I think it’s to disarm you or something.”  

[Then, in her impersonation of her own young, naive self] "No, I don’t think so. I smile because I want to make some kind of a connection.
I look at someone and I think… we’re connected”
I love people who smile...
I SWEAR she looked right at me when she said those last 2 lines!
I don't go to many concerts (ticket prices are usually too damn high for my frugal proclivities) and when I do, I don't typically want to meet the artist afterward (I am too shy and awkward).  But after all of this feeling connected to Melanie and her music, I was really, really hoping to meet her.  
Sadly, my daughter was just too exhausted to stay any longer.  At 10pm, not knowing how much longer the concert would continue, we packed it up and left our excellent seats to some  grateful folks that had been standing for the whole show so far. Fortunately, however, our friend, Matt, was the sound engineer.  My mom gave our ticket stubs to him, which he was able to get signed by Melanie, AND he surprised my mom with an autographed copy of her latest CD!  Thank you so very much, Melanie and MDG!  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Handful of Scrumptious Firsts.

Last Tuesday was awesome.  As in: I was full of awe, all day long.  I had the house in a pretty good state, considering the amount of fur my dog has been depositing everywhere.  It was a gorgeous day, so I walked around outside for a few minutes to soak in some sun, and then headed down to my basement studio, where I completed... 

First #1:  I made my first hand crafted, Coptic stitch bound, watercolor paper art journal.  
Watercolor paper, folded and stitched into a journal.
I followed the directions that Jeanne Oliver includes as part of her "The Journey of Letting Go {creating beauty from ashes}" online art course, which I wrote a bit more about here.  

I made the stitches a little too tight, so it didn't want to stay closed all of the way.  I put a stack of big, heavy books on it, and she's right as rain now.  :)  

I used the thick backer board from the watercolor paper pad as the cover, and covered it with some cute scrap-booking paper as a base upon which I will embellish, probably with some vintage paper decoupage, a bit of acrylic paint, maybe a found object or two... But I was pretty pumped about having made a book that looks like an actual book!  

Every step in the process of making it was thrilling to me:  using my bone folder to make crisp edges on each folded piece of paper; using my new awl to create holes in the paper for stitching through; punching the holes in just the right spots of the front and back covers; waxing embroidery floss for the binding; snugging each stitch as I aligned all of the layers, adjusting as needed.  I love love love using my hands to create useful things.  SO satisfying.

First #2:  I spotted the first baby geese of the season while driving to get my daughter from school.  
I had to get this photo from Free Stock Photos because the parents of the actual cute baby geese that I saw would not let me anywhere NEAR said cute baby geese. :o/
I get so excited about the progress of Spring:  Longer days, warmer breezes, new leaves and flowers and charming, fuzzy little critters.  Eeep!

Luscious lilacs in my front yard.

First #3:  I went with my mom and daughter to my first Melanie (yes, THAT Melanie) concert!!!

Which I have decided needs it's own post, because it was so dang special!!!

So, tell me:  What have YOU been awe-struck over lately?  Are you more likely to feel awed by something that you made happen, or by something you just happened across?

Part of a displayed collection at Rochester Museum and Science Center, which is a constant source of wonder and enchantment.