Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make-Believe: Embracing Your Inner Child

I have not written a blog entry in a while, but I just got inspired by an article on Make-Believe that my husband clipped and put on my desk. Google is my friend, so of course I ‘googled’ make believe and among the responses I got back from my query (including music bands and dancewear in Jacksonville) I got ZILCH… Seriously! Google doesn’t advocate ‘Make-Believe?’ Well, I’m not going to sit here sifting through pages and pages of non-make-believe data to find that embrace-your-inner-child moment. So…


Defining ‘Make-Believe’

Make-believe to me is using ones imagination to create, so we look at ‘imagination’ to help us in the use of ‘Make-believe.’ Using ones imagination or creating a ‘Make-Believe’ scenario is a creative or artistic expression where we use our minds to create in a freer/less-restraining environment. However, societal norms, conventions, and morays do limit most of the outward use of imagination so as not to appear non-conformist or even mentally unstable.

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination ... is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited and the imagination encircles the world."


Woah, what happened?! I was thinking of writing a light-hearted piece on make-believe or using ones imagination and I ended up down this cerebral path that’s positively KILLING my original inspiration!!! So back on track.

Jani Taylor’s piece "About Make-Believe" speaks to me because she remind us of the need for those precious moments when we get to escape the mundane, serious world (often with our children) and fuel our imaginations. As Ms. Taylor states,
“the world of make believe isn’t so much about escape as about renewal and healing.”
I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, and I believe that in a world that is often too serious and often violent adults need heal from the world of adulthood that does take its toll on our hearts, minds, and even our souls. Many (myself included) seek moments of escape wherever our interests take us.


How to Practice Make-Believe Moments

The easiest way to have those wonderful childlike, healing moments is in the company of a child. If you are lucky enough to be able to occasionally embrace yourself in a world where time stands still and you engage a different part of yourself, the results are glorious and a balm. At first you might have a sobering pause when you get off that swing in the playground and the reality that you hadn’t done that in years hits you. On a personal note, becoming a parent or grandparent also provides us with opportunities to tune our perspective and experience life through the eyes of a child.

-A feel good movie
-Put on a puppet show
-Sing Christmas songs anytime you want (Summer too)
-Sing like a rock star (shower or car)
-Enjoy your Christmas tree 365 days of the year
-Silly moments with friends or loved ones (charades anyone?)
-Reading or playing with a child
-Coloring (VERY therapeutic)
-Reading any work of fiction that fires the imagination
-Writing stories (or a blog…ha, ha, ha)

The possibilities are endless. Just good clean fun, and an opportunity to embrace our inner child. Go play!

Postscript: Hubby and I have been writing a children's trilogy together, and hope someday to have it published.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gluten Free Banana Bread or Flax Muffins



Banana Bread (gluten free)
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I substituted with pumpkin spice)
1 3/4 cups of gluten free flour
1 tsp xantham gum
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven 350F. Grease 9x5 inch non-stick loaf pan.
Mix with electric mixer: oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla (pumpkin spice).
Add flour, gum, salt, powder, cinnamon to egg mixture, alternating with bananas.
Beat until smooth
Stir in nuts and raisins
Transfer to pan and bake for ~1 hour


Flax Muffins (gluten free)
1 1/2 cup gluten free flour w/1 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
2 peeled and shredded apples
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cups Almond milk
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla (I substituted with pumpkin spice)

Mix together flour, xanthum gum, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in large bowl.

Stir in carrots, apples, raisins and nuts.
Combine milk, beaten eggs and pumpkin spice.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients.
Stir until all are moistened...do not over mix.
Fill in muffin tins or 9x5 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins in pan OR 20 mins as muffins

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let Me Entertain You with My Life - Summer 2010

July 6, 2010
The beauty of music touches my soul like no other; it evokes such strong emotion that it brings me to tears of joy.

July 17, 2010
I just heard this song on the radio while driving and it is not only is stuck in my head, but has inspired me to go to the dance studio!



Unwritten lyrics
Songwriters: Brisebois, Danielle A; Bedingfield, Natasha Anne; Rodriques, Wayne Steven;
I am unwritten
Can't read my mind
I'm undefined

I'm just beginning
The pen's in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines

We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way, no

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
To the years where your book begins
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
To the years where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
To the years where your book begins
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
To the years where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten


July 23, 2010
Okay, LIFE with NO grains, dairy, or sugar = 7 lbs of weight loss thus far.

FRUIT LIST
High sugar fruits are still low in calories and very high in nutrition. They don't need to be avoided, unless you are in the initial stages of a low carb diet.

high sugar fruits
Apples, cherries, grapes, loganberries, kumquats, mangoes, pears, pineapple, bananas, figs, prunes, and dried Fruits.

low sugar fruits
Small Amounts of Lemon or Lime, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries

low to medium sugar fruits
Strawberries, casaba melon, papaya, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, apples, guavas, apricots, and grapefruit.

Sources: Righthealth.com
www.oodora.com

July 27, 2010
Yesterday, spent 6 hours of my work day reviewing 50 resumes (oh joy), followed by killer workout with trainer at end of day (barely able to walk after 3 SETS of Bulgarian lunges)!! Oh, and someone stole my lunch out of the work refrigerator!!!

Then, I came home from my workout HUNGRY only to find my son had eaten my gluten free banana bread SO I peeled and shredded a LOT of carrots and apples to make my gluten free carrot/apples muffins.

July 28, 2010
We all have those moments in life where we want to make a 'mental note' to avoid those experiences again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Resistant to Weight Loss? It Could be a Hormone Imbalance


NOTE: this blog is predominantly a compilation of information that I have gleaned from the many articles that I have read on the topic of high leptin levels/leptin insensitivity and its effects on fat metabolism and weight loss. I AM NOT A DOCTOR and this information is purely to help those think ‘outside of the box’ about what some of the causes of their weight gain and / or increased body fat composition might be caused by.

I dedicate this blog post to 30+ year old females like myself who are frustrated and discouraged by their ability to lose weight dispite their healthy lifestyles of eating ‘right’ and exercising more than the average. I hope this blog helps them to think about ways to be pro-active in their own health concerns and the fat metabolism and weight loss challenges that they may face. There is a plethora of knowledge to help you on your own quest to work with your health care professionals in asking those insightful questions and finding answers so that you can be proactive in safely looking at ways to diagnose and treat any potential hormone imbalances that you may have as you go through the cycle of menopause.

About Me:
I am a six year post-menopausal 49+ female who eats a high vegetable / low sodium / low sugar diet and works out 4 – 6 days a week, but have noticed a gradual increase in weight as well as abdominal fat that has caused me to become discouraged. I recently had a 75 panel blood draw (comprehensive metabolic profile) ordered by my new osteopathic doctor that is going to help me with my post-menopausal symptoms with a combination of bio identical hormones and supplements to help me continue my VERY active lifestyle (which includes dancing ballet). The Leptin insensitivity that I have been diagnosed with may have a strong genetic component since it is considered by some to be a pre-cursor to insulin resistance (Diabetes runs in my family).

What is Leptin?
Leptin is one of the most important hormones in weight gain and weight loss. Leptin sends a signal to your brain that you are full, and you don't need to eat more. Leptin is produced by your fat cells (aka adipocytes) to break down fat into a form that is useful for making energy. It is a key hormone for maintaining a lean body. People need leptin to keep a lean body mass. However, your body can become confused and get mixed signals that actually make your body think it’s in starvation mode and HOLD its stores of fat!

HIGH LEPTIN LEVELS
High sustained concentrations of leptin from these enlarged fat (adipose) stores result in leptin desensitization or insensitivity. People, who have leptin levels that are considered too high, may have a ‘flawed’ pathway of leptin control resulting in the body’s inadequate receipt of the signal that they are satiated. Professor Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., from the Rockefeller University discovered in his 1994 research that the leading cause of belly fat is leptin resistance. Below I provide some ideas/strategies if you have noticed that you have an increase of fat stores (particularly belly fat) and have slowly been gaining weight and having trouble losing it regardless of healthy eating and frequent exercise.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Insulin, estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone, and even brain chemicals all have an effect on increasing and decreasing the balance of Leptin in the body. I would strongly recommend that if you are concerned about your weight gain and/or increase in body fat, talk to your doctor about the feasibility of getting a comprehensive metabolic blood panel done to check ALL your hormone and metabolic levels. Besides having an imbalance in my Leptin levels, I also have an improper ratio of other hormones because I am post-menopausal. Personally, taking synthetic hormones over time resulted in unexplained bleeding and I am now looking for more natural ways to treat my hormone imbalances.

Blogger’s Personal Comments
Because I had low blood sugar most of my life, it was my habit to eat 4 - 6 small meals a day. However, this eating habit has probably played a role in my developing Leptin INSENSITIVITY (it may also be a genetic factor for me with diabetes in my family).

Look for foods that help increase your metabolism and burn fat like omega3 fish / fish oils, pulses (beans) and vegetables. Many of us know that omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been linked with a reduction in the risk of heart disease as well as improving cognitive abilities. In the right doses, they can also raise your metabolic rate and help you burn fat faster. I eat oily fish such as salmon (which has a relatively low mercury content) several times a week OR take a high-quality fish oil supplement daily. The challenge? Unfortunately, many types of fish are contaminated with mercury, while some fish oil supplements contain organic pollutants.

Side Note: interestingly, one of the symptoms of leptin insensitivity is sugar craving, which I don’t have.

It's NOT a Diet, but a Life Style Change!

If you are leptin resistant, you NEED to change the way you think about food, and HOW you eat. Even if your Leptin levels are NOT too high, these are good habits to aiding weight loss (minimizing unhealthy weight gain) as we age :

1. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day and should contain protein. It is VERY important to eat protein with breakfast. Protein activates other satisfaction signals that will help you get through the day without overindulging in high-calorie foods. Just remember that protein keeps your hunger signal at bay because it takes longer to digest than carbs.
2. I don’t eat sugar and I don’t crave sugar, but many processed foods contain high-fructose corn syrup (includes almost all commercial baked goods, and most "whole grain" breads). Read labels!!! If it has fructose, put it down!
3. Eat more live foods / foods in the natural state. I cannot stress enough the importance of minimizing processed foods. You can do tons of research to find low glycemic and/or gluten free foods that have adequate amounts of fiber. Fiber helps your food digest more slowly which keeps your insulin levels from rising too quickly. [You also want to think about food providing energy and not being stored on your body as fat]. Bottom line: five to six servings of veggies a day.
4. Eat ONLY three meals a day and do not eat a lot of food during any of your three meals. Think of the division of your daily calories in 1/3 for each of your three meals (five to six hours in between your meals, remembering that 12 hours should occur between your third (last) meal and breakfast the following morning). Why is this important? IF you eat too much, you will have fatty acids in your bloodstream stopping the signal that your fat cells are full.
5. Do not graze on food throughout the day. Stick to ONLY three meals per day (five to six hours apart. Remember the 1/3 of your calories per meal rule).
6. Don't eat a lot of carbohydrates and remember fiber! Carbohydrate can be as detrimental as fructose (starchy food becomes sugar when it is digested). Think high fiber / non-processed foods. One of my docs told me that if ANYTHING you eat doesn’t have at least 2g of fiber, don’t eat it. It’s not worth wasting your calories. 30g per day should be your target for fiber.
7. Don't eat before you go to bed / don’t go to bed on a full stomach. Your brain is most receptive to the weight-loss hormone while you are asleep. If you eat too soon near your bedtime, your fat cells won't be making the hormone while the brain is particularly sensitive to it.

Other Strategies in Controlling Leptin Levels

Lifestyle factors are important in controlling leptin levels to achieve weight loss. Although not all research agrees, melatonin levels do decrease with age and increasing melatonin levels in rats was found to decrease leptin levels. Melatonin plays a key role in regulating leptin and as we get older, pineal melatonin secretion declines, while visceral fat, blood insulin, and leptin levels in the blood tend to increase. A number of studies show that melatonin supplementation can lower leptin levels and that the pineal gland helps control leptin release.

BodyandFitness.com suggests consuming 2,000 to 3,000 mg of calcium each day. Calcium cancels a brain signal known as agouti, which spurs hunger. To be effective, calcium supplements must be part of a calorie-reduction plan.
Take vitamin D to inhibit leptin production. As an added benefit, vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium. My doctor recommends 5K per day.
Take acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) supplements. ALC is an amino acid that aids the brain in understanding how much leptin the fat cells are generating. When consumed at night, ALC is also shown to produce growth hormone, elevate moods and improve critical thinking skills. The typical recommended dosage is 500 mg of ALC twice a day, in the morning and before bed.

Below are links to more information on things you can do to help you fight against Leptin Resistance, Fat Metabolism and Weight Loss.
http://www.everydiet.org/diet/leptin-diet
http://www.vrp.com/articles.aspx?ProdID=art1862&zTYPE=2
http://www.ihealthdirectory.com/leptin-resistance-treatment/
http://www.thefactsaboutfitness.com/news/fish-leptin.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptin
http://www.ehow.com/how_5106890_reduce-leptin.html

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reflections: Countdown to 50 - Day 58



For those of you who don't know me, my internet persona is 'smileywoman'
As my 20 year old son says, "mom, your inner child is younger than mine."

Well, smileywoman has been struggling quite a bit lately with many things and decided to start blogging about it. Although I believe [and my motto is]: "Age is JUST a number, so DANCE!" I'm struggling with a lot of physical issues at this stage and wonder if and to what extent I will be able to dance. So, this is part one of my countdown to my 50th birthday - day 58.

About a month ago, I strained my hip flexor. I've NEVER had issues with my hip flexor until a few months ago, now I'm concerned it might be a chronic problem. Adding that to the list of my other physical challenges (achilles tendon, neuromas in both feet) the list is growing.

Anyway, 3 weeks off of dance to heal ... the voice in the back of my brain starts in (thank goodness for the wisdom of that voice at times).
"Maria you don't want this to become chronic so it's time to get proactive."

[silly Maria like many very active people think that because we dance we don't need to do extra leg work]. Wrong! I went for a full assessment at the gym and the trainer says,
"not bad for nearly 50."
I would say to myself,
"Well, I would hope so considering I workout 4 - 6 days a week."


Now I've added a trainer to my weekly workouts for the next 6 months to focus on strengthening and conditioning overall, hoping to avoid continuing to injure myself. After all as we get older injuries take much longer to heal, and I sure DO NOT want down time from exercising. Gosh, I'm so hyper I NEED the exercise to keep from jumping out of my skin. Yes, I'm a bit intense; hence the need for daily exercise.

After two weeks of input from these two fitness professionals, I am breaking out of the plateau I've reached in my exercise regimen. My aerobic exercise will get 'mixed up' to keep my body guessing. The trainer says, "you have to push past your comfort level. If you can make it through your entire exercise routine with ease, then you are not pushing yourself."
He also says that interval training in spurts will crank my metabolism. Focus on more (boring) fat burning instead of (exhilarating) cardiac level aerobics. Of course, to keep me happy I'll throw in some barre work, some floor barre work, and some centre work to keep my young-inner-ballerina-soul happy as well.

MY CHALLENGES
1. At 49 I have been post menopausal for more than 8 years. Having gone through menopause much earlier than the average woman, I do not have hormones and my metabolism has gone AWOL. So gradually over a 10 year period I gained unwanted weight. I will soon be visiting a doc to start a BHRT program to help me deal with the hormone deficits so that my 4 - 6 day a week exercise pays off with the results I want (reduce fat, increase muscle).

2. My genetic downfall: women in my family store fat on their bellies. Over the years, my rather slim figure has slowly been putting on weight and the belly has developed a mind of its own. Portion control, eating fiber, tons of veggies, forcing my two pieces of fruit and making sure I get enough calories from the right foods.

ASIDE:
nutritionist said I eat well but need to make sure I get enough calories for my activity level. If you starve your body, it cannot efficiently fuel itself. Ultimately, you cannot lose weight effectively/safely without eating enough.
1/2 cup servings of my food items at one time, 4 - 6 small meals throughout the day. [I've always eaten small meals to control insulin levels anyway. My blood sugar tended to be low when my family's tended to be high because of diabetes.]

3. Athletic injuries / physical challenges: injuries starting to become numerous. I was a runner 20 years ago and had to give it up because of the debilitating pain in the ball of my left foot which turned out to be the beginning of neuromas. The doc said to have the surgery, but I'd lose the feeling in that part of my foot which (as a dancer) freaks me out completely!!! I could not dance when my foot was numb from the cortisone shot, how the hell could I dance if my foot became permanently numb. The neuromas made me change how I fast walk / jog as part of my aerobic routine. In order to take pressure off of my forefoot, I became hard on my heel strike which started to cause an Achilles problem. Oh joy! *said with sarcasm*

I mentioned the hip flexor earlier... Well, the first time I felt pain was doing my son's favorite stationery bike program with him. I thought it was the pedal straps forcing turn in (I'm comfortable turned out, thank you very much). Anyway, the pain went away until I went jogging in KangaJumps and SERIOUSLY strained my left hip flexor. Stops to heal, re-evaluate workouts to avoid injuries etc.

Last but not least, vestibular impairment in my right inner ear that developed eleven years ago when I went back to university to fulfill my dream of obtaining my degree. LOTS of testing revealed a vestibular impairment in my inner right ear which has caused a balance disorder. I'm careful of triggers to avoid vertigo attacks. As a person who exhibits 3 of the 4 signs of Meniere's Disease, I'm proactive in my health by following a low sodium diet, exercising to the level you see here, and avoiding triggers.

BLESSINGS

So many... I'm blessed and grateful for this stage of my (mental) life working towards self-actualization. Survivor of so many challenges (abuses) wrought on me by others, but survived because of a indomitable spirit refusing to be crushed.

My journey to self-actualization has my brain working ideas on sharing knowledge and hard-won wisdom to others (especially females) as a way to provide support and understanding, an ear, and a shoulder to cry on when necessary. This blog 'Embrace Your Child' is the place where all of this pours out to share and help inspire others on their own journey.

Remember to practice those pause moments daily and be ever cognizant of your own blessings. You are loved. You are worthy. Appreciate daily those around you that are a positive influence. Show them and tell them that you appreciate them.

When you go to bed at night and when you awake each day, count your blessings.

I pray that I continue to find my joy in these things and the ability to dance, even if only in the humblest of ways that continues to light my soul and make me a true smileywoman.

So there you have it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Do you Embrace Your Inner Child


Nearly everyday something pops into my head that helps to inspire me in my life. There are times that it has such an impact on me, that I wonder if it would inspire others as well, if I share it?

One of the things that I often think about is the fact that I still dance frequently, even though I'll be 50 years old in four months and I have a balance disorder.

My 20-year-old son often smiles at my random moments of bursting-forth joyfulness. [Yes, I dance, sing and generally let myself have joyous, random moments of silliness on a frequent basis.]

Life can be SO stressful and fast-paced and we (woman in particular) often forget to take moments for ourselves, and experience those joyful moments when it almost seems like time stands still.

What fun things do you do to embrace your inner child? Here are some of mine:
-Color in coloring books
-puzzles
-play board games
-let myself express moments of silliness
-skip, sing, dance etc.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Even More of a Non-Bunhead

Several months ago I took the plunge and cut my hair so short that I could no longer put it up in a bun. I worried that I wouldn't look like a ballet dancer anymore without my bun. At the same time, I'm torn because I'm nearly 50 years old and wonder what is an acceptable look for a woman 'my age.' Of course, I'm even more conflicted because I don't look my age and my inner child is only 10 years old afterall. :P

So after a five mile hike with hubby yesterday and feeling frumpy about my curly tresses, I popped in and got a $16 haircut. The parameters? I don't blow dry. I just want to tossle it and go.

So here are the results. My husband, who loved my long hair, loves my short hair.



I'll just have to get in touch with my inner ballerina whilst donning short hair, right? :)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Poem Inspiring a Full Life

One of my dance friends shared this poem in discussion of remembering those we have loved who have gone on.

The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?


This is a nice reminder to live life well and to love deeply.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Remembering My Mother



An excerpt from the Eulogy and Postlude of my mother's 'Celebration of Life Service' Five Years Ago

My mother did not want a funeral and liked the idea of what the Irish do . . . laugh and cry retelling stories of a loved one. In fact, my mom’s friend Nancy told me in a conversation, that my mom once told her “I don’t do funerals.”

Some of my mom's happiest times were when she was a child living on the farm in Otisco Valley with her mom, brother, mother and various animals including Bossie the cow. My mom told me many stories of riding that very lumpy cow and how she loved to pester her brother Fred.

My mom was a woman who wore many hats in her life. She was a survivor of abuse, a single mom, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. Although my mother’s life was often troubled, she was a strong caring person, a loyal friend, and she was a survivor. She often told me at times of pain in my own life that the women in our family were strong. She was right. My grandmother was the rock of our family and I was a third generation survivor of abuse.

My biggest respect for my mother was as a struggling single mom. Mom worked hard to raise her two children the best that she could, with the limited resources that she had. My mom was a caring person who took special delight in children and animals. Mom once told me that she wished that she could have been a veterinarian [although I also thought that she should have been a great singer]. Mom had a beautiful singing voice and I grew up listening to her singing along to her records of various Motown artists as well as Barbara Streisand.

My mom had a great sense of humor too. She was a kid at heart who loved to dress up for Halloween, and enjoyed the family get-together's at holiday time. Although we were poor, my mother worked hard so that I got to go to the senior prom, graduate on stage with my classmates, and insisted that I have a class ring. She made all those things possible for me. She said I was her star and she was very proud of me.

My mother was an adventurous friend who loved to go on drives every weekend and she adored fishing! Her best friend in Syracuse, who is also called Cathy, reminded me how much my mom loved the water. The two Cathy’s were like sisters and spent more weekends than not either fishing or driving around for a great adventure. I remember as a kid my mom would say to us kids, “Hey, let’s go get in the car and drive around and get lost!” She loved to drive and loved going on big driving adventures almost every weekend.

After her family had grown, mom moved to the countryside of Central Virginia to be closer to all of us. She worked for a number of years as an elder caregiver before she had to retire due to disability, and eventually ended up in a rehab nursing facility. There she had many friends and people who were very fond of her and she was very fond of them. The folks here took good care of her and many of you called her "the social butterfly." Mom had her daily afternoon bingo at her special table with her bingo buddies.

Often times when I would call my mom, I could not reach her on the phone and she would call me back breathless and cheerful telling me about her visit at the nurse’s station or talking to residents in the hallways. I will miss my talks with mom throughout her day as she filled me in on her daily happenings.

While I carefully sorted through pictures, to make a collage for her memorial service, I found a note in my grandmother's handwriting which read:

"When my final farewell to this world I have said, and gladly lay down to my rest. When softly the watchers shall say (she is dead) and fold my pale hands on my breast. And when with my glorified vision at last (the walls of that city) I see. Will any one then at the beautiful Gates be watching and waiting for me?”

My mother, Cathie, the social butterfly may be gone, but she is not forgotten. We are sad at her passing, but know that she is at peace in heaven. She is once again reunited with her own mother and in the presence of the Lord.

Aside: this appeared in the program for the memorial service. It is a beautiful song that I love to sing. It is written by a contemporary Christian artist who is a singer, songwriter, and classically trained pianist.

"If I Flew on Morning Wings"
If the Heaven's heights I fly
You are still beside me.
Or in death's dark shadows lie,
You will stay close by me.
If I flee on morning wings
Far across the gray sea,
Even there your hand will lead,
Your right hand will guide me.
Written by Fernando Ortega 1998



Postlude

I invited those attending the Memorial Service to take one of my mom’s stuffies as a remembrance of her. When the service was over and we were leaving, I saw one of my mom’s friends in the hallway. This white haired lady with the shining face had taken two of my mother’s stuffed animals. A beautiful little fur bear that Dan and I had given mom that she thought was too pretty to hold very much and only talked to him while he sat in his special place next to her bed and a aquamarine colored pony with white mane and tail. This little lady told me again how much she enjoyed my mom’s friendship and would miss her talks and being bingo buddies [her room is straight across the hall from my mother’s room].

My mother is at peace and I think she would have been pleased with the service.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Bucket List (i.e. Things to Do Before I Die)

My Life List aka Bucket List of Things to Do Before I Die

Yet to Do
Sing the National Anthem in public
Go on a Cruise
See the Grand Canyon
Visit the White House
See a broadway play
Write an inspirational best seller
Join a theater group
Perform on stage as an adult
Ride in a hot air balloon
Learn to ride a horse (with style)
Visit Alaska
Visit Texas
Teach a course
Visit the Greek islands
Visit every country of my ancestry: Holland, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales

Items in Progress
Write a children's book
Become a public speaker
Study the Bible in more detail
Learn to play the piano
Start a woman’s support group
Learn to write with my right hand (legibly)
Travel to Italy (Tuscany etc.)
Become an advocate for a worthy cause
Be a Reader at church

Items Completed
Study the major religious beliefs of the world
Study Human Anatomy
Study Psychology
Study biology
Study Child Development
Purchase my own home
See the Russian ballet
Adopt a dog
Adopt a grandmother
Travel to California
Earn my degree
Have my own business
Take a French refresher course
Sing in a band
Visit a Southern plantation