Friday, December 25, 2009

Impromptu Praise Dance for Jesus Today



CHRISTMAS DAY
Christmas Day church was lovely. We were concerned not many folks would show up, but we had about 40.

The INCREDIBLE thing that happened after the service when everyone left except for one family, Dan and I, and our interim Pastor and his wife.

I was mentioning that ballet calms me and Pastor mentioned that his wife is a dancer. She's a tiny thing, maybe 60 years old. He said that one of the worship pieces played for the prelude today would be lovely for praise dance and asked me if I would do an impromptu dance with his wife while he played the trumpet.

I managed to get the family of four and Danny to dance too.
It was a VERY special moment and dancing in church to such beautiful music in front of the altar was a special experience.

CHRISTMAS EVE
Christmas Eve celebration with hubby's family last night was nice. I took TONS of pictures and some are really amazing. I can't wait to create the family Christmas web page.

It's strange, I'm the unofficial photographer at many events. I went to a baby shower almost 2 months ago and I was the ONLY one with a camera! At Christmas Eve I was the only one with a camera again.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Being Thankful

Well, my main computer has a virus so the traditional web page creations that I do for family events is on hold at the moment.

There's a lot to be thankful for and at this moment my brother-in-law's recovery from bypass surgery is at the top of the list.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite pictures from our recent Thanksgiving gathering. It was the first year that just us big 'kids' got together without the kids and grandkids.

CLICK picture to see Larger Image






And for good measure, here's our holiday card for this year! :)



Friday, December 4, 2009

He has a big heart

He has a Big Heart


That was the comment made by one of the medical professionals that was in the operating room today when Dr. Edward A. Lefrak, MD performed my brother-in-law's triple bypass surgery. 
Dr. Lefrak is one of the BEST cardiothoracic vascular surgeons in the country, and he performed the surgery today. This AMAZING man actually came out and spoke to us after the surgery!

The patient should be intubated by midnight and tomorrow he'll be a Mr. Cranky Pants because of pain etc., The next 24 hours will tell how he does because his cardiovascular disease is quite severe.

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There's an interesting article that was in the Washington Post about LeFrak being interviewed by some Eighth Graders who watched him perform a heart surgery.

The Heart of the Matter: Eighth-Graders Get a Close-Up Look at Life-Saving Surgery
By Susan Levine

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

By the time they filed in for the operation, they already had been briefed by the heart surgeon. Dr. Edward LeFrak had even given the group a chance to question him about the long and complicated procedures he does to help save lives.

"Do you have to stand the whole time?" wondered 14-year-old Claire Trueman.

"People ask that all the time," LeFrak said with a smile. "They say, 'Don't you have to pee? Don't you have to eat?' You're so focused, you don't think about it."

John Athy, who is 13, wanted to know: "Do you have any rituals before you operate on somebody?"

Breakfast, LeFrak replied, which usually includes nonfat yogurt, granola cereal, tomato juice and tea.

"I have to be at my max, so to speak," he explained.

"Do you ever get nauseous and stuff?" asked Cat McKinstry, 14.

The doctor confessed. The first time he watched surgery, long before entering medical school, he took one look and fainted. "We don't want anybody to hit the floor today," he said.

And no one did, though the bird's-eye view the eighth-graders had as LeFrak got started shortly after 9 a.m. did provide some stomach-challenging moments.

The 15 students from St. Mark School in Vienna were among the latest visitors to the observation dome at Inova Fairfax Hospital. It's a very cool place, a room with seats positioned around a huge, clear bubble. Through that bubble you can look into one of the operating rooms, practically right over the operating table. If you want to see even more of what's happening, video screens show close-ups of where the lead surgeon is focused -- in sharp detail and color.

About 3,000 students a year take this unusual field trip to Inova's heart institute. The hospital doesn't expect the visitors to become doctors because of this experience, but it does hope they leave smarter about their own bodies and health. What they're eating now can contribute to heart disease later in life -- especially foods such as potato chips and doughnuts, the St. Mark girls and boys learned.

LeFrak's patient that morning was an elderly woman with a heart artery that over time had become clogged by fatty deposits. Arteries are the pipelines that transport oxygen-rich blood through the body, so this was a critical problem.

But there was a ready solution. The operating team would take a section of vein from the woman's left leg and use it to bypass, or go around, the blocked artery. Because veins carry blood back to the heart, they can take this kind of duty. LeFrak would use silk thread as thin as a human hair and sew the vein into place during the operation, which took about five hours.

The classmates watched as the doctor cut carefully through the protective, fluid-filled sac that surrounds the beating heart. With long blue drapes covering much of the patient, "it's hard to grasp that they're actually working on a real human body," said Meghan Smith, 14.

"It's a little scary," she said, "but fascinating."


When I learned that Dr. LeFrak was to be the surgeon, I was greatly relieved and thought THIS man can perform miracles. If anyone can save our Terry he can.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Life: A Shirt’s Perspective


Hey, the name is Oxford. Yeah, I know it’s a bit unusual to have a shirt communicating with human’s let alone have one write a Blog dedicated to our perspective. This is just a bit of entertaining whimsy. Those who love randomness will probably enjoy this too!

I have an interesting life, or at least some would say it’s interesting. The spokesperson for my story is this Blogger named, Maria Louise (aka smileywoman). I hope you enjoy it.

In the Beginning
In the beginning there was a cool, still darkness. I lay there stiff. The beginning of life was so restrictive. I don’t remember my true beginning (i.e. how or where I was made). My ‘life’ started from inside of this realm called, “The Closet.”

Preparation
One day there was a whoosh and a slant of light that entered the space where I lay. Rather quickly I was lifted by a pair of large, strong masculine hands from the shelf where I had been resting. Dizzy at the thought of no longer being inert, I was immediately dizzy as I was unwrapped from my pins and paper. The strong, large hands soon had me fully formed, unbuttoned and splayed open…’ready to wear.’ In one smooth movement I was wrapped around the form that belonged to those masculine hands. The man deftly buttoned shirt and cuffs and I was almost ready for my arrival.



What’s this?! A form of restriction around my collar. Brightly colored silk wrapped into a tight knot. The heavy material flowed down in a wave to settle on my shirt front, covering my buttons. Suddenly the man bent forward and it was nearly my undoing! I’d never experienced an amusement ride, but I imagined this sudden pitch forward and down to be the same sensation that one would experience on a roller coaster. I wasn’t sure whether this was a positive or negative experience. The masculine form was tying some objects near the ground (shoes) and just as quickly as he had bent forward, he arouse to an upright position again. Anticipation filled the air as the man stepped out of the closet.

This is the beginning of my story. Stay tuned for more details on my experience.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stumbling onto the Profound: Life is a Gift


I dedicate this blog to my birth daughter. I wish for her the awareness of her own amazing inner strength on her journey of healing from the past, as I reach the end of my own healing journey.

I picked up a book from my late Mother-in-law's collection entitled, "Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood" by Wayne Muller. The last page that she bookmarked was about "Fear and Faith." I wonder if she stopped reading the book because of what was on that page. Did the fear and pain from her childhood make her put the book down, never to finish it?

For me, the most profound statement, read thus far, is:
YOUR LIFE IS NOT A PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED - YOUR LIFE IS A GIFT TO BE OPENED.


The prelude of Mr. Muller's book had such a profound impact on me that I wept. The first few paragraphs spoke to my soul as a survivor of a traumatic childhood. I've never felt such a strong desire to meet an author (or write him a letter) as I do after reading one section of this book. Mr. Muller's words truly touched my soul and the impact of his book's preface makes me wonder if THIS is a book that will change my life forever.

As an adult survivor of child abuse, I secretly wondered all my life if I was somehow broken, damaged, unworthy of love.



My abuser would have led me to believe that (as a way to control and keep me in his power). I agree with Mr. Muller, that pain from a traumatic childhood often has devastating impact on a child's life.

Adult survivors of childhood trauma often struggle to be free of the pain and feelings of unworthiness which are a residue from those experiences. We do often strive to heal from the pain of our broken childhoods, and the memories can haunt us in our daily adult lives.

I've noted that many adult survivors of traumatic childhoods often demonstrate a quiet inner strength and a wisdom beyond their years. For me, I survived in spite of the attempt to have my spirit and child-like wonder crushed. I had an inner strength, a quiet certainty that life was not dark and evil and that there was goodness in the world. I don't know where that strength came from, but it never left me and is as strong in me today as always.

Adults who suffered traumatic childhoods sometimes find themselves on a life-long search for the beautiful things of life, like love, peace and kindness. . .almost as a counter balance to the dark experiences of their formative years. Do we focus our attention on the inner life as a form of self preservation? Perhaps trying to make sense of it all?

We develop an awareness of our surroundings, taking a more in depth look at life's subtle imbalances; quick to detect the slightest conflict, flicker of hope or despair.

As adults we search for those things missing from our childhood (i.e. love, belonging, safety, joy, and peace).

The first step on our journey to heal, is to realize that family sorrow can be a seed that gives birth to the healing and awakening of our spirit.

I paraphrase Mr. Muller:

A Fresh Start
Childhood pain may not be a gift, but a response to that pain may have caused a powerful intuition, a passionate devotion to healing, and a love that burns deep within oneself. Those skills honed so acutely ARE gifts to be recognized, honored, and nurtured.

BOTTOM LINE: You are NOT broken! You ARE worthy of love!

It is important to recognize that in order to heal from your childhood trauma, you do NOT need to remove or destroy anything out of yourself to start anew.

The challenge is NOT to repair what was damaged in your past.
Instead, focus on reawakening the wise, strong, and wholeness inside of yourself; cultivating the qualities of the heart and spirit that are available to you within yourself.

An excerpt from the last page that my beloved mother-in-law read before she died reads:
"...most fears are generated by the mind (no real danger is present or eminent).
-Why do so many of us go about our lives fearing the future?
-We handle what is given to us at the moment, but fear a task may surface that we cannot bear.
-Grief arises in response to pain from our past (fear is our response to the pain we feel about the future).

Getting Beyond the Fear
-We need to explore the reason for our 'anticipation of pain' about the future.
-Learn to understand our fears and learn how to heal what frightens us.
-Fear arises when we believe we won't be strong enough to handle the pain we may be given.
-A child from a troubled family was given too much hurt in their youth, left feeling small and fragile.
-It is a powerful lesson for a young one to learn how deep pain can tear at ones heart and body.
-Ever wonder as a child, "I don't know if I can take anymore pain?" That questions stays into adulthood.

-Trauma of childhood was real, BUT remember resilience of your spirit is very strong.

Ultimately, Mr. Muller believes that his book will help reawaken inner strength by discovering a reliable sense of safety, belonging, and peace. The book contains 12 distinct manifestations of childhood pain which are lingering wounds expressing themselves as tension between our emotional history and our spiritual unfolding. You'll examine the shape of that particular childhood wound (remember he discusses 12 of them) and reveals how the scar from that wound affects our emotional and spiritual life.

We can then learn to gentle observe, explore, and massage those places where we are mentally 'caught,' where we are ready to grow, and where we ache to be free.

My journey has begun, may these words inspire you to start your journey as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

For the Love of Words



I have varied creative moments that run the gambit from slogans made to help market a company to songs, stories, poems, and little odes such as the one written on this diary opener.

Words

Words. Love 'em, think about 'em. They pop into my head at random times and I've started to write things down in a little notebook that I carry with me. The little book started as a way of tracking my food and exercise log. Then it grew to include my daily work log (I'm a contractor and get paid through my company, AWW*


*Kudos for those who remember what the name of my company is. HINT: My company's motto is We provide internet magic everyday - the web presence specialists.

Okay, back to my original point - Words

A word pops into your head. [You may or may not know the definition or meaning of the word]. Maybe you do know how to properly use and pronounce the word (reminds me of a story…but I digress).

How about fun words like those that imitate the sound associated with them like buzz (which is an onomatopoeia).

Ever play a game of making up definitions for words that pop into your head? Well, yesterday I was talking my hubby about something and used the word doodad. A doodad is an unnamed or nameless thing, gadget trinket etc.

Well, how about creating a list of things that doodad could be to you? Me? First thing I thought of was a list of things for a father to fix, work on, accomplish for a friend or family member.

EXAMPLE: “Sorry Harry, I can’t have a beer with you tonight ‘cause I promised the misses I’d knock out a few things for her on the old ‘Do Dad’ list.”

Made up Words
My favorites are: slather and kernt.

Slather is a liberal, generous application of a substance (editable or not). “She slathered an enormous quantity of peanut butter onto her toasted English muffin.”

Kernt is a sound effect that is often associated with an abrupt stop to a motion.

“Pascale was speeding along at 90 MPH when he quickly applied his brakes, resulting in the immediate and unmistakable sound KERNT!”

Entertaining Tidbit (i.e. my random blog ending

Q: What makes holes in Swiss cheese?

A: Well, according to Dr. Gourmet (at drgourmet.com):
Like yogurt, cheese is made by adding live bacteria to milk. The resulting fermentation gives off gasses and it is the bacteria that is used in making Swiss cheese that is responsible for the large holes. One of the three bacteria used in Swiss cheese is Propionibacter shermani. For some reason this bacteria makes the cheese's distinctive larger holes.

Once P. shermani and other bacteria are added to the milk mixture it is warmed and bubbles of carbon dioxide form. The bubbles come together to create the large holes. In the cheese industry the holes are called "eyes."

Interestingly, USDA regulations state that the holes in Swiss cheese must be between 11/16 and 13/16 inches in diameter.

What fun thing do you like to do with words?

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11-01 We will Never Forget



At 8:45 a.m. on September 11, 2001 I was getting ready to leave for a day of classes at the university, as an adult university student. My husband and I never watch television, but he had the TV on that morning watching the news. He called me into the living room and I briefly watched the reports. We were confused and thought it must have been some kind of hoax, so I left for my classes.

However, my husband had a horrible feeling of foreboding. He did NOT want me to go to university that day, I insisted. On the drive to school, things just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I felt a great deal of unease.

When I arrived at school there was pandemonium everywhere. Every place a television existed; people were transfixed by the news and the images on the screen. Everyone was a bit dazed, in shock at the realization that it was real. A formal announcement was made to dismiss all classes.

On the drive home, the distant sky near the Pentagon had a strange hue to it. I saw the Vice President’s motorcade on the highway, thinking he was probably on his way to Langley Air Force base.

My husband was so very glad to see me, and we stayed very close to each all day in our solemnity.

At times of great tragedy, people gather together. We want to be close to those we are about. Call those we love who are a great distance away. We feel unsure, frightened by the brutal reality of how fragile and precious life is.

Although I did not lose anyone that I knew that day. I personally felt that my life was changed forever. The na├»ve sense of somehow feeling safe because I lived near the Nation’s Capital and so near the Pentagon, our airspace could NEVER be invaded by terrorists.

I have not felt safe since then, and will never have that sense of safety again.
Life was changed inextricably that day.

ASIDE: a couple of years ago a church member of mine gave us a personal tour of the Pentagon (where he worked). He showed us where the plane crashed and talked about the memorial that would be erected there someday. He showed us the memorial inside of the Pentagon, and the enormous quilt that showed a personalized square and photograph of everyone who died at the Pentagon that day. I could not imagine anyone not being overcome with intense emotion, fighting back tears at the realization of how many people died that day.

Every year on September 11th, everyone I know talks about that day years ago, where they were, and what they were doing. May we always take that moment on all September 11’s in our future.

Those who lost their lives are gone, but will NEVER be forgotten.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gone, but not forgotten


Yes, death is a part of life and that fact does not make it any easier. A sobering 'pause moment' this Sunday was to place sixteen separate floral bouquets at Babyland in the cemetery after church today.




The idea to visit Babyland and place flowers on the graves, occurred to us after we sat graveside singing hymns to mom from today's church service. The pews at church had been brightly decorated with white hydrangeas and ivory satin bows and ribbons (left from a wedding the previous evening).

After today's church service, I learned that the pew bows were going to be thrown away and I asked if I could take them. I gathered the pew bows and carried them with me to the car. As Dan drove, I sat and removed the extra ribbon from each bouquet to use on future wedding accessories and we set off to the cemetery with the intention of placing the flowers on mom's grave.


I tied four bunches of the white hydrangeas with one of the ivory satin pew bows and placed it on the grave marker as we sang to mom in heaven. I then looked at Dan and said, "we should leave flowers on Stephanie's grave." [I was referring to the isolated grave at the curb that I discovered once when we walked from the parked car on a visit to the cemetary to talk to mama.] Stephanie's grave always looked so forlorn, never a flower adorned it and I often wondered if anyone ever came to visit the grave of this little girl who lost her life when she was 8 years old. As we placed a bouquet on her marker and said a prayer, Dan suggested that we visit Babyland and distribute the remaining bouquets. We thought it would be nice to place the beautiful bouquets on unadorned graves in the children's cemetery.

As we parked at the entrance to the baby cemetery, I noticed a lonesome grave across the path on the other side. As we approached we saw a beautiful bronze marker that showed the picture of a handsome teenage boy. The grave was adorned with a statue of an angel and a cross. This young man had lost his life at 15 years of age. His bronze grave marker polished clean and well cared for in this serene spot among the dappled trees. We placed a bouquet of flowers on his grave and said a prayer.

We then walked across the path to the entrance of Babyland, and as I approached the outer circle I gasped at the overwhelming number of tiny grave markers before me fanning out in a circle. I stood in hushed silence and read "baby boy" who died on the day he was born. Another, was a brother and sister buried side by side, a few years apart in age, but they died the same day. Dan and I wished we had more flowers than what we had, as we walked around placing flowers on the tiny graves that had no decorations.

As I placed the last bouquet, I walked away from the tiny graves and away from my husband, fighting tears and feeling quite humbled by the experience. Yes, they are gone, but not forgotten.


Taking the time to visit that quiet place today was a solemn 'pause moment' for me. Life IS indeed precious.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Things to Think About on Life's Path: Words of Encouragement


A friend of mine made some comments about herself that I could relate to. She's in her mid-20's and I just turned 49.


1. Do you ever think of yourself as "weird, odd, or different?" If so, does that have to be a bad thing? I don't think so!

Consider this: when people call me that, they mean it as a criticism and I smile with a REALLY big smile and warmly say, THANK YOU! Isn’t it nice to be unique?

2. Self-reflection and assessing ones life at various points is a good thing. If you feel like you've ‘run away’ from life, that’s pretty normal behavior. [Life IS scary, overwhelming and wonderful].

BUT a wise person once told me that you cannot run away from yourself, because wherever YOU go, there YOU are!

3. Often think 'what am I doing with my life? I don't know what I want to be? I've reached this point and what do I have to show for it?

Some people NEVER reach ‘being’ or aren’t even aware (or even try to get there)! Striving to BE is a life-long process. That process often requires a few steps forward and a few steps back.

I lovingly suggest you be kinder to yourself in that striving to BE. The process is a path towards ‘self-actualization.'

4. Take what people say about you with a grain of salt. Everyone has an opinion, but ultimately only YOU really know who you are. People's opinions are colored by their own perceptions. Their perceptions ARE not YOUR realities!

5. Any negative statement that is made about you should have the negative element removed...turn IT into a POSITIVE.

6. If you are a little too sensitive (I used to be) that’s a balancing act that takes time. [Better to be too sensitive than not caring.

One of the most life changing events in my life that brought me inner peace, and quelled the inner struggle was learning to embrace my inner child. I have a passion to share my hard-won wisdom on that path to self-actualization.

How about making a 'List of Things I Want to Do in My Life' and start doing them. PM me to discuss if you wish.

-get out and do something to make the world a happier place
-indulge in outlets of express that you LOVE (don't worry about what others think).
-learn to love with more focus and energy (be less fearful about love)
-consider living in a house where walls are painted a different color in every room.
-have a pet to love. Pets love unconditionally, cheap therapy!
-allow positive, kindhearted people into your life.
-minimize the toxic relationships/negative people in your life.
-breathe more deeply.
-world, this is me, take me for who I am!'
-run toward people, places, memories, and dreams not away from

Put these things on your list of things that you want to do in your life. Remember life is a process and a path. You can't get there overnight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You Can Make a Difference Every Day!


You Can Make a Difference Every Day!

Do you think that one person can't make a difference? If everyone did one thing every day to make a difference in someone's life, imagine the multiplying effect...millions of people would be doing something daily to make a difference for someone else!

Consider the 'Starfish Story'

An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm.

A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scoffed. "You're not saving enough to make a difference."

The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "I made a difference to that one," he said.

Think about it. WE can ALL make a difference. It doesn't take a lot, either. A simple act of kindness through the hustle and bustle of your daily lives can make a difference.

So as you go about your busy day, hold open the door for someone. When you're sitting in a traffic jam, let a person merge in front of you. You'd be amazed the effect a small act of kindness can do. The person that you are nice too, may think about passing it on by being nice to someone else, and so on and on it goes.

You really can make a difference every day in someone else's life!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adoption: Perspective from an Amazing Encounter (birth mother to birth mother)

A few months ago I ran an errand to my local Salon. While I was there I met a young woman and we started to chat. I asked about her Thanksgiving Day and she politely inquired about mine. I mentioned that it was ‘okay’ considering it was the first one since ‘mama’ died (in February). She mentioned that a friend of hers had died in an auto accident recently. She asked me if I had been close to mama (my mother-in-law) and I said yes, and I was like the daughter that she never had. Conversation continued and the subject of children came up. She mentioned a son and I replied that I had ‘two children.’ She asked if I had gained much weight during my pregnancy and the conversation continued…

Then I asked how old her son was, and she quietly replied, “my son was born in September and I placed him for adoption.” I replied, “wow, I did the same thing 23 years ago and my birth daughter found me in September!”

We talked FOREVER and shared our feelings about adoption. The adoption of her son was an open adoption. I explained that my daughter’s adoption was a closed one, but I insisted on naming my daughter, wrote a letter for her, and took care of her for her first three days of life.

We also shared our sorrow at how we were treated by society for having placed our beloved babies into adoption. She and I both had hurtful experiences from total strangers saying things like: “oh, how selfish of you to put your baby up for adoption.” And similarly insensitive comments.

At one point she stopped talking and quietly asked me, “may I hug you?” After we hugged each other, she beamed at me with the most beautiful smile and said, “you are the first birth mother that I have ever talked to, and talking to you like this has meant the world to me!”

This young woman and I connected with a shared understanding of what it is like to love a child so much, that we cherished their future and wanted only the best for them and made the ultimate sacrifice of placing them up for adoption.

A final comment she made to me was, “people have told me that I must not have loved my baby and that’s why I gave it up for adoption!” I replied, “no, you loved your baby very much. You carried that child inside of you for 9 months and then lovingly placed it in the care of another.” I also reminded her that although she gave up the right to raise her child, she did not give up the right to go on loving him.

If you are adopted, it isn’t always true that you “weren’t wanted.” If you were truly not wanted, your birth mom could have simply gotten an abortion, but instead she gave you life.

I just wanted to share this amazing story in hopes of showing one side of adoption. A young woman has hopes that the child that she carried inside of her for 9 months, will have a wonderful life.

If you were adopted, you were given life by one and chosen by another. You are indeed very special.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Celebrating Dancing, Spring, Dogs and a Healthy Life

Yeah, dancing is something I do. I do it in my sleep, while standing in line at the grocery store. I don't listen to classical music to relax...because I find myself trying to choreograph to it!

As I approach my 49th birthday, I don't get to dance as much as I like to do. I'm lucky if I dance 2-3 times a week (instead of the 3-5 times I used to dance). It's harder to recover from injury, and life's obligations take priority.

As cerebral and logical a person as I am, I still have a very strong artistic side. It got placed on the back burner for nearly 20 years, but about 7 years ago I dusted it off and I've been dancing every chance I get now. As I approach my 49th birthday, I'm stronger and more flexible now than at any other time of my adulthood. I'm healthier too. I'm very health conscious and write down the nutritional information for everything I eat (I have a balance disorder, so I have to track my sodium intake anyway...)

Writing down what I eat helps me to remember to eat, and eat the right things. The nutritionist that I saw a year ago told me that I was eating too little fat and calories and that's why I wasn't losing weight! Sounds illogical, but you can't starve your body to get in shape. When you workout 4-6 days a week, you really need to fuel the engine that is your body. It's logical! So, I try to get my two dairy products and my two fruit items everyday along with my non-meat protein, TONS of veggies and very few starches...portion control is key!

So having gone through menopause 10 years prematurely (started at 38, now I'm nearly 49) I have diligently followed a healthy caloric diet that gives me at least 1,700 calories a day (instead of the recommended 2,200 for my activity level...cause 500 calories less a day = 3,500 calories less a week; the number of calories to decrease intake to lose 1 lb a week). So after 9 months, I lost 27 of the 37 lbs that I had slowly put on for the last 10 years. I'm 10 lbs away from my goal weight, but I don't weight myself anymore. I just feel good and keep working out and eating right.

I danced on the Friday and Saturday, but not on Sunday and Monday (give my toes-ies a rest). I did manage 30 minutes on the treadmill and my lower body conditioning at the gym today (along with some core work).

Tomorrow, a dance friend who I've not seen in quite some time comes to visit me and my son, Evan bringing her baby (who is already 4 months old!)

I JUST celebrated the 30 day anniversary at my NEW job. YEAH ME! Work is busy, busy, busy and I hope it becomes full-time within the next 6 months.

SO back to talking about dancing... As articulate as I am, I'm hard pressed sometimes to explain how I feel about dancing. The way it makes me feel is a combination of spiritual, emotional, and physical. There's an AMAZING interview a friend of mine did on Tami Stronach. Tami was best known as the English child actress who played the Empress in movie entitled, "The Never Ending Story." Tami is now a professional dancer, choreographer (who also has her own small dance company). A quote of her's describes EXACTLY how I feel about dancing:
"I think that the reason I'm attracted to dance - and art - is because it's the place where the emotional life is more important than the practical life on some level. It's a sacred space where your inner world is valued and I think most of my work - and most of the reason I'm a dancer - is I want to be in environments and make environments that give people permission to express that part of themselves. In various ways, all my work ties to the fact that forces in society conspire to shut people down and take away their ability to feel. Then as life becomes harder and harder, it becomes scarier to feel because feelings are big and hard. I think emotions are like your ballet muscles. They're like your plies or tendus, if you don't practice them, you become less good at it and less good at engaging with other people. It's not something you learn and not something that in society, we spend a lot of time thinking about. I feel like that piece is a story version of what I'm describing. It's sort of saying that there's a lot of fear in allowing your emotional world to be really full and big. There's that constant fear that you'll lose your equilibrium and you won't be able to be in charge of yourself and function well."

Ultimately, I dance because it makes me incredibly happy on a deeply spiritual level. I experience a harmonious, peaceful contentment of mind and body. Moving to music is the best therapy that I could ever imagine to stave off depression or anxiety.


My Mottos: Passion to Dance Regardless of Age - Age is JUST a Number...So DANCE!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Self Improvement Comes in Many Forms - Some Food for Thought

Self improvement can be as simple or as complicated as one wants it to be.

In my teens I made it part of my common practice to work on improving myself. Whether it was a matter of improving my speech or learning something new every day. To this day, every night when I go to bed I think about how lucky I am to have learned at least one new thing that day. Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for giving me another day to cherish life and those around me.

It's so easy to just 'be' You all know people like that. They just maintain status quo and stagnate. They don’t think about learning, growing, changing. Most people are afraid of change and avoid it at all costs. I was once one of those people, and my life was ruled by crippling fear.

Unfortunately, much of my self-improvement has been as a result of hard won wisdom through mistakes along the way. Life doesn’t come with a blueprint or a manual. Like innocent children, we sometimes stumble and make mistakes along the way. It’s called being human.

I haven’t always been flexible. In the contrary, I was as rigid and unyielding as the next person. The difference for me was the necessity of learning to be flexible in order to succeed and thrive in an environment that was foreign to me…the work world.

At 17 I graduated with honors from High School and left home to ’do something with my life.’ I knew that if I stayed where I grew up, I would not become anyone worthwhile, and I might not survive. So with the impetus to start a new life, away from an abusive childhood, I left home at 17.

I landed my first job in Washington, DC working in an editorial office on the staff of a scholarly peer-reviewed medical journal. During my 17 years with that organization I learned, grew and spread my wings and went on to explore other things. Of course, along the way I made mistakes (I was particularly a poor judge of character, too trusting, and gullible) and was taken advantage by many people, but I learned…

Honestly, those mistakes along the way, through the years were what one would call ’character building.’ My boss would remind me every time I would recall yet another mishap. “Maria, it’s a character building experience.” I got to the point where I would say, “I have ENOUGH character already, I don’t WANT anymore of these ’character building’ experiences!”

So fast forward through a failed first marriage, working for 20 years, finding my faith in God, a divorce, entering university at 39, graduating with honors at 44, going through early menopause, finding true love and re-marrying, starting two businesses of my own, and re-starting ballet.

Along the way I changed a LOT. I am now very flexible, calm, and confident in my own abilities, and have learned to be my own best friend. I have shed (for the most part) the ghosts of child abuse, and feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. I’m at peace with myself and believe that I can handle whatever life throws at me. I face foreclosure of my only asset (my house in my name, separate from my marriage) due to the economy and an extended loss of income. Through all of the difficulties of these last 6 months, I have managed to keep my faith. My main focus has been to find a job and not give up. It’s okay to have ones perfect credit be marred by bad economic times. Houses are only brick and mortar and can be replaced. I have prayed more in these last 6 months than I have ever prayed in my life.

Three weeks ago I got a job. It’s 5 hours a day at the minimum amount that I can survive on, but I feel so incredibly blessed! I love the challenge of doing what I do best, and helping a growing small company by setting up all of their administrative systems. They love me, and I hope to be promoted to full-time within 6 months period of time. Yes, I am blessed to have this job where I am needed and appreciated, at a time when many are losing their jobs.
So, self-improvement can occur in ones life just by a matter of being flexible and adaptable - changing and growing where it is needed to survive and excel. That’s all fine and well for the cerebral aspect, but what about the body?

Losing my mother before her 65 birthday due to long-term complications of diabetes and heart disease, and my own early menopause became a catalyst for change. Over a period of nearly 10 years, I slowly started to put on weight (I was always very thin) and was not able to lose the weight. The reality, menopausal women’s metabolisms slow down and it is imperative to adjust ones eating habits (portion control of carbs is key) and increase exercise. Gone were the days of eating whatever I wanted…

In a 9 month period of time, through diligent hard work (4-6 days a week of ballet, Pilates, killer cardio, and visiting a nutritionist) I lost 27 lbs. As I approach my 49 birthday, I am the strongest, and healthiest that I have ever been in my life. I am indeed blessed. The more time and effort I put into my healthy life style, the better I feel, and the more results I see. Dancing and moving in general just feels so good. I’m so in tune to my body and it’s movement that I revel in it like a child. I smile in wonder at the simplest improvement in my dancing. Yes, I am so blessed and I thank God for letting this mother of 7 and grandmother of 9 to be at this incredible point of life.

My biggest indulgence is impromptu dancing every, single chance I get!!! Now, A week ago I was preparing some of my vintage wedding dresses for sale, and thought it would be fun to take some ballet pictures wearing them. I offer only one picture here. A lace wedding gown from the early 1900’s. (I was VERY careful in those dresses)…


Ballet in a lace wedding gown from the early 1900s

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a376/smileywoman/studio/mar7balletlacet.jpg/

At the Renaissance of my life I embrace my inner child as often as I can. I think THAT is my fountain of youth. So you see what I mean? Self improvement does indeed come in many forms. You’ve only got one life, so live it fully aware, and embrace it! :D

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grateful, Tired - Recent Reflections

I was thinking about something recently. When I was young I wondered if I were asked which of my senses would I be willing to lose if I had to give up one of them, which would it be? Well, we refer to them as ‘the six senses’ but technically, there are only five external senses that are named, and they are: smell, sight, taste, hearing, and touch. If someone refers to a ‘sixth sense’ it’s along the lines of ESP ‘extra-sensory perception.‘ The REAL sixth sense is often not remembered, but some believe that ‘sixth external sense’ would be body-sense or somatosensation. Somatosensation actually includes proprioception (balance), kinethesis (sense of space) and cutaneous senses which are perceived through tactile skin responses such as hot, cold, pain, hard, soft. The term somatosensation when referencing the brain actually references the somatosensory cortex which gets signals on things as pain, touch, proprioception and more.

I have a balance disorder, so for me, proprioception is not 100 percent., having an impaired sense of balance due to neurological impairment of a nerve into my inner ear, effects my ability to ‘know’ where my body is in relation to space (especially when I close my eyes!) You’d be amazed how many people don’t realize that our physical sense of balance is not just inner ear, but eyes too. If I close my eyes (or I’m in a dark room), and I can’t use my eyes to help me compensate for the impairment in my right ear that effects my balance.

I loved studying physiological psychology in school, and highly recommend Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book entitled, The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. Dr. Sacks is a neurologist who wrote up case studies of patients with interesting neurological disorders and how those disordered effected their perceptions and daily functioning. It’s quite an insightful and thought-provoking book.

Now back to my earlier discussion. If I HAD to choose a sense to lose, which would it be? Would I give up my sense of smell, sight, taste, hearing, or touch? I guess, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I could no longer smell. I’d hate to lose my sight or my hearing. I think touch is important as well. Yup, I’ve decided…it would be my sense of smell.

I wouldn't want to lose my other senses, because they are to closely linked to my love of dance and music. Dance and music feed my need for self-expression (along with my writing). Dance and music make me happy, and feed my soul (almost in a spiritual way).

What about you?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Colors of Life and Keeping the Faith

The Colors of Life

I don’t know if it’s because I struggle with depression in Winter, but I realize that colors evoke a response in me. As I sit here snuggled in my bed typing on my little pink laptop, the thought of colors in life popped into my mind.

If I were to sift back through previous writings, I’m sure I’d come across previous comments I’ve made on colors (particularly, the universal physiological or psychological response to colors).



Similar to onomatopoeias, I equate some names colors with the sound of their names spoken aloud. If I say “pink“, my mouth purses as I prepare to puff out the word. HA! Speaking of onomatopoeias, “puff” is an excellent example, oh, but I digress!

Back to pink. Well, of course there are LOTS of shades of pink, and the color of my little pink laptop is more of a muted, frosted almost mauve pink. The color looks like it would be cool to the touch and smooth in texture.



Of course the response to colors varies on a spectrum as much as the color shades themselves. For instance, most would probably agree that black, on it’s color spectrum to gray is dark and depressing, yet others might find it to be quite soothing.

For me, a delightful riot for the senses can be found on material that has an array of colors, with iridescence reminiscent to a rainbow creating the eyes and the brain to quickly process and identify all the wondrous colors that it perceives. ASIDE: that is probably the most satisfying run-on sentence that I have ever written!



So we can agree that colors are often multi-faceted. The subtleties of which our brains perceive more on a subliminal level. Like the light of the sun touching on objects on Earth, the color changes based on the light, shadow, angle, and texture of the object that reflects it.

Focusing back to color (in Europe it‘s ‘colour‘), our use of the word itself is also often confusing. Technically, color is perceived on a small band of visible light on a large electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye is not fully aware of (i.e. we can only see above or near infrared). Technical details can be read at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum#Visible_radiation_.28light.29

Color As a Term
-medium used “to color theater lights” by using color gels with names like Bastard Amber, Congo Blue, and Tipton Blue.

-the phrase “of color" a broad reference to people who are non-caucasian (not white). Such silliness continues with color references as ‘white people’ who are not white but kind of pink or beige or ‘black people’ who are not black, but more a spectrum from tan to dark brown.

-to ‘acquire color‘ - to turn red, especially in the face; to blush.

-a property depending on the relations of light to the eye, by which individual and specific differences in the hues and tints of objects are apprehended in vision; as, gay colors; sad colors, etc.

-any hue distinguished from white or black. NOTE: I was taught that black and white are not technically ‘a color’ because on a light spectrum 1) black is the total absence of color and 2) white represents all color.

-as a reference to color characteristics representing good health 1) ruddy complexion, 2) give color to my pale cheek.

-that which is used to give color; a paint; a pigment; as, oil colors or water colors.

-that which covers or hides the real character of anything; semblance; excuse; disguise; appearance.

-shade or variety of character; kind; species.

-a distinguishing badge, as a flag or similar symbol (usually in the plural); as, the colors or color of a ship or regiment; the colors of a race horse (that is, of the cap and jacket worn by the jockey).

-an apparent right; as where the defendant in trespass gave to the plaintiff an appearance of title, by stating his title specially, thus removing the cause from the jury to the court.
NOTE regarding legal pleadings 1) color is express when it is averred, 2) color is implied when it is implied.

Source: Webster’s Dictionary (circa 1913)

Perception of Color

Our perception is based on ‘color sensors’ of which we have three (red, green, blue).
Interestingly 8 percent of males are color-blind (they have the blue sensor, but are either missing or have a distorted color sensor for red or green. Interestingly, that would mean that not all people have an identical perception of color! Source: http://object.cup.org/Chapters/0521590531WSN01.pdf

The Color Wheel
Remember learning the color wheel in school? You had the primary colors and the intermediates that you could mix together to create other colors.

By adding an intermediate color to a primary color, you would actually be demonstrating subtractive colors. Along those lines, light works the same way…The primary colors for light are red, green, and blue, and the intermediates are brighter than the primaries because there is more total light present in them. Check out this link for an example of an additive color wheel: http://home.wanadoo.nl/paulschils/06.00.html

Of course, the difference is the color wheel is circular (duh!) and the visible spectrum on light is laid on a straight line.

If you imagine bending the visible spectrum into a circle.



The color wheel is useful for observing multiple wavelengths of light simultaneously (what do I get if I mix red and blue?). The color wheel is not representative of the real world - only our perception of it. For many species, our color wheel would be meaningless. REMEMBER! Your pet dog or cat doesn’t see the world in ‘color’ like you do!
Source: http://madsci.wustl.edu/posts/archives/mar2001/985572799.Ph.r.html

For me, I’m happy for the colors of life that help me be positive and healthy. Of course, I have a strong predilection for those ‘pause moments’ where I can have a frozen in time experience of childlike wonderment.



I smile to myself realizing that my nickname, ‘smileywoman’ really does suit me.

I’ll continue to surround myself with the colors that evoke a positive response, and revel in the delight of all the colors on the spectrum that I can see and enjoy daily.



I’m happy to be at the place in my life where I am confident and at peace with myself and my past. Obviously, I still have my dark moments of fear, doubt etc. but those will always be there (hopefully few and less intense than in the past). I pinpoint this ephinany to a number of factors, but the most influential is probably Faith.

The rainbow is considered by those of Faith to be a reminder from God that he will never again flood the world like he did when Noah had to build the Ark. Rainbows are the ultimate visual wonder showing the full, visual spectrum of light to humanity. Yes, I’ll continue to keep the faith, and I like that reminder.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Adventure to Washington, DC Today (surprise revealed)

Everyone knows the economy is tough. I've lost many clients for my web
presence consulting/design firm. I decided to hire on with a temporary
employment agency to get my foot in the door for my next career
adventure. So today was an interview with the agency in Washington, DC.
Well, I don't drive in Washington, DC (it's too scary and parking is a
huge pain in the $*@#!)

So I set off to do public transportation today. Unfortunately where I
leave public transport to get to the subway is long and involved, so I
opted to drive my car to a shopping center NEAR the subway. With
winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour, I set off for the long walk
from the shopping area to the subway station (wearing my black
pinstripe ‘power suit’ and sensible shoes, of course).

I take the subway train the 8 stops to my Washington, DC exit and walk
to my interview (lots of walking, I remember walking everywhere when I
lived in Washington, DC and I was is superb physical condition too).
I’m in very good condition now too or I’d be winded from all this
walking around (ha, ha). The interview went well and I’ll get a follow
up call on Monday (and hopefully my first assignment sometime next
week).

After the interview I trek off for the long walk back to the subway
station. I take a wrong turn and make a circle to head in the correct
direction. Meanwhile, the sun is shining on my face and the wind is
blowing my loose curly hair everywhere, but I LOVE it! (Yeah for
sunshine to fight ‘seasonal affective disorder’ . . . but I digress,
sorry!)

At one point I look up and realize that I’m only blocks away from the
White House! I stop and stand there for a moment with memories flooding
back of my younger days of living and working in DC and the first time
I came upon the view of the White House!



It really IS still amazing after all these years (31 years to be exact) to still feel the thrill of being in the nation’s capitol and stand there gazing upon the house
where the President of the United States of America lives! WOW!

Okay, so…I continue my journey to the subway and spy ahead of me a
cameraman and a reporter.


As I approach to walk behind them, the young man with the microphone stops me and says, “excuse me, I’m from German television and would like to ask you a few questions.” I reply, “Sure, why not.” He proceeds to ask me if I’m familiar with the Smart Car, to which I reply yes I’ve heard of it. He then hands me a picture to study and asks me if I would drive one.



I respond with a long (articulate) commentary on how Americans are as equally concerned with fuel efficiency as they are with crash protection. I state my concern on the size of the car, and would be interested in the crash data and whether it has airbags, side crash protection etc. We have a lengthy interview,
he thanks me, I smile and continue on my way. Wasn’t that neat? THAT’S
the surprise! Now of course, I have no way of knowing if my interview
will actually end up on German television, but it was pretty nifty to
be randomly interviewed like that on a subject that I felt competent to
discuss. Ha, I feel like such a nerd. (tee, hee, hee).

So off I go 8 stops back to Falls Church, Virginia to be reunited with
my car. It was an interesting morning AND I got an invigorating walk in
the sun and warm windy air and a bit of an adventure to Washington, DC.

Now I sit here checking my email after a quick vegetarian lunch. I’ve
changed my clothes


and I’m off to the dance studio to dance (must put a band aid on that heel blister first…ouch!) and take some photographs of some vintage gowns I’m trying to sell.



I still have 40 gowns left from my vintage gown business…which has sense been converted to a wedding re-creation business of hats, veils


and various wedding accessories).

Now, you might ask me why I’m going the route of temporary employment.
Well, I am interested in pursuing my next career endeavor and working
as an employee in a big company (I’ve done consulting and
self-employment for the last 10 years while I worked on my honors
degree at university). I’m very good at what I do, and want to continue
my career track into management. Although I’m excellent with projects,
I’m more interested in people at this point in my life. I have a strong
desire to transition more formally into change management, the human
relations side of it so I either have to go back and get my master’s in
change or organizational management or consider an advanced degree in
industrial organizational psychology. The certificate route appeals to
me as well, but I need more ‘formal’ human resources experience
(employment law etc.)

Where I used to work, I interviewed, trained, and hired our temp
employees, so I know it from the other side of the coin. Sometimes to
get your ‘foot in the door’ of a corporation, you have to get in the
door. Temping offers the possibility of a symbiotic relationship
because you can work for a company on a temporary assignment. While
you’re working there you get a feel for the place and they get to see
how awesome you are in return! I want to get my ‘foot in the door’ of a
company that I can’t get into otherwise, and show them that I’m awesome
as an administrative manager and executive assistant, but I also have a
lot more to offer a company too. I also clearly have tenure and am
interested in a career home and not JUST a job. So I’m excited about my
future and working towards my goal of helping an organization and
helping people too. It’s a feel good to do a job very well and I get
paid to do it too!

FYI, I love to write and I’m trying my hand at blogging. You can find me at embraceyourchild.blogspot.com

I hope you like my story today and hope you’ll be interested in following me on my journey through my blog.

Cheers!

Maria (smileywoman)

PS I'll come back later today and add some of my pictures.

1. Doesn't everyone do impromptu ballet in street clothing?


2. Doggies


3. Trees (I LOVE trees)


4. Doggies outside

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How the Concept Came About And a Tip On Embracing Your Inner Child

How the Concept Came to Me

I didn't consider embracing my inner child until I was over 40 years old.

The concept for me was realized after a conversation with my husband (14 years my senior) who suggested that I embrace my inner child. His advise stemmed from me stating that I had been trying to murder my inner child all my life. I stuffed it deep down inside of me and denied it's existence so I could be a SERIOUS adult. The problem? I wasn't as happy a person because the adult side of me NEEDED to acknowledge the very real existence of that wonderful inner child. That concept changed my life. I found a way for the SERIOUS side of me to be more in control in a positive way. Have the adult side calm and nurture the inner child when it was scared. By acknowledging the inner child the adult side was allowed to be in control because the inner child was happy to be acknowledged.

I'm sure it sounds like split personality, and for me it IS a bit like that. I suppose my strange thinking is a coping mechanism as a survivor of abuse. The inner child was a strong force in me. Unfortunately too strong. I needed to find a way to nurture, validate and calm the scared inner child so I could have a more harmonious existence between the adult and the child-like side of me.

How to Embrace Your Inner Child

Humor

Well I happen to be Post-Menopausal with a few hot flashes thrown in, so THAT picture is so VERY appropriate for ME!

Have you ever notice how GOOD you feel when you laugh? Do you remember laughing so much you can't breathe, have to hold your sides, tears run down your cheeks and you nearly wet yourself?

It is VERY good therapy to laugh. It's equally important to laugh at ourselves. After all we are only human. We're quite infallible in fact.

Why do you suppose those rubber tips (called erasers) were invented and put on the ends of pencils? Because we are NOT perfect and we make mistakes, that's why!



Find Resources

A List of Books and Videos to Consider

Recovery of Your Inner Child: The Highly Acclaimed Method for Liberating Your Inner Self
Meditations to Meet Your Inner Child
For Your Inner Angry Child
Getting Thru to Your Soul: Inner Child, Relationships & Advanced Techniques
Your Inner Child of the Past
Homecoming: Reclaiming Your Inner Child
Claim Your Inner Grown-Up: 4 Essential Steps to Authentic Adulthood
Affirmations for the Inner Child
Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child
Bedtime Stories for the Inner Child: Reuniting With and Nurturing Your Inner Child
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child
Inner Bonding: Becoming a Loving Adult to Your Inner Child

Practice Pause Moments

One way to embrace your inner child is to practice 'pause moments'. You know moments of truly reflecting on THAT exact moment that you're in and how wonderful it is. Life can be such a rat race, that we forget to stop and enjoy the beautiful of simple things in life.


So sit at the bar of life, take a sip and reflect.
Practice Self-Talk (Meta-Talk Therapy)

Have positive conversations with yourself. Work on positive reinforcements to change negative programming and negative ways of thinking and acting.

It could be as simple as changing your style of thought

Try practicing Wealthy Thought-forms INSTEAD of Poverty Thought-forms.

This is a form of positive reinforcement by changing a pattern of behavior to say positive statements to replace negative ones.

Remember, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile!! Saying positive things will help you feel and act more positive.

-Try to see the glass as half full (not half empty).
-Try to focus on the positive side of a situation.

Can you think of other ways to practice positive reinforcements for yourself?

I'm positive that YOU can!

Future Goals
I hope to be a motivational speaker someday and help empower women to learn to embrace THEIR inner child too. I'm also writing a series of books for tweens about a little yellow bird and his great adventures. The book started out as one and turned into a trilogy!

I'm also an administrative organizational manager who aligns people and projects. I hope to obtain an advancement degree and/or certification in the near future in organizational or change management.

I hope you enjoy my blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Smile CAN Make a Difference!

Smile (Poem)
Author Unknown

Smiling is infectious,

you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,

I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner

and someone saw my grin

When he smiled I realized

I'd passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile

then I realized its worth,

A single smile, just like mine

could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,

don't leave it undetected

Let's start an epidemic quick,

and get the world infected!

Everyone needs a smile!