Saturday, April 17, 2021

Resilience: Cracked but not broken

Resilience:  Cracked, but not broken

Greetings my fellow humans! I hope you are surviving and thriving during this very difficult time in all of our lives. The year 2020 was truly a crap storm and we all hope that 2021 will provide light and hope to us all.

It has been several months since I felt the energy and mental ability to put down into words something worthy. I wanted to provide an opportunity for dialog at an unprecedented time of challenge, as the whole world has struggled through the last twelve months of living in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was so easy to formulate intelligent thoughts when mentally free flowing in deep philosophical conversation with my soulmate-sister earlier today, but now I am unable to wax eloquent once my fingers hit the keyboard. One cannot help but ask “why don’t the words of wisdom come across as easily from my fingertips as they poured from my lips just moments ago?” Oh yes, one of the many dilemmas of being a writer!

Over the course of the last twelve months of isolation, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have grappled with numerous thought paths, like tendrils of fine wire, flowing through my mind as I search for some glimmer of purpose during this challenging time. Shuttered in my home, I attempt to redefine my purpose, but instead I find myself shutting down one idea after the other.

The one familiar thing I am able to accomplish as my feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression increase is learning. I have always been a strong proponent of self-help, self-reflection and self-improvement. It has been my mantra to continue to strive on this lifelong journey to be the best person that I can be. Pursuing this path of learning provides a focus, while other normal outlets involving physical presence around others has been taken away. This focus also provides me with a sense of hope, since I am not currently inspired to work on any of my vintage re-creations.

On my life path, I discovered early, my desire to learn about behavior and mental processes and how humans interact with each other. I went back to school in my late 30s and earned my bachelor’s degree with honors. An interest in psychology not only helped me in my corporate job as an HR Manager, but also in my relationships with other humans. Learning what makes us tick, helps me to try and understand what also makes me tick as well.  

As I currently pursue my coursework for my Human Resource recertifications, I am especially focused on resilience. Resilience is the ability to adapt well to stresses (or changes) and this is a skill that is needed in our work lives as well as our personal lives. As I approach my 61st year of life during this pandemic, I realize my toolbox seems to be lacking, as I see my own resilience falter.

Growing from Failure and Adversity

Is the cup half full or half empty? It all depends on your perspective. When one attempts something and does not succeed, it should be seen as a life lesson and not a failure. It is important to be kind to yourself. Most of us fail along our journey in life. It is how we respond to failure that’s important.

Life doesn’t come with a blueprint or manual of “how to’s.” I remember once asking my mother why she never warned me about “this or that” when I was younger. Her response? You probably wouldn't have listened anyway and it’s better if you learn it on your own.

If you are like me and find that your coping skills and resilience may be faltering at this time, and you want to continue a positive, forward trajectory how do you start?

One thing that keeps us from taking that first step towards a needed change or improvement in our lives is the fear of the unknown. Another thing that may cause us to pause is not knowing where or how to start. The internet has a wealth of information and experts that can help. You can also find support groups so you don’t feel alone on your journey.

As I ended my call with my soul-sister earlier today, I reminded her that we are not broken, but cracked. We are like a mosaic of lines where we have healed from our experiences.

Some things to think about on your self-help journey:

  •       Practice self-care (exercise, eat properly, get enough sleep)
  •       Work on being more flexible and adaptable (you can only control yourself)
  •       Hold yourself accountable, but be kind to yourself
  •       Have an empathetic support system (rid yourself of toxic relationships)
  •       Work on developing your happiness toolkit
  •       Allow yourself to sit with your pain (work through it)
  •       Journaling (write down your thoughts)
  •       Practice mindfulness
  •       Help others
  •       Make a list of goals (and work towards achieving them)
  •       Practice supportive self-talk (let your inner adult embrace your scared inner child)
  •       Recognize that you are only in control of how you react to things (and people)

The Serenity Prayer (a great reminder that we have no control over other people or things)

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…the courage to change the things I can…and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Below are some links and resources that you may find useful as you navigate your self-help journey:



Friday, August 21, 2020

Updates: Life, Changes and More

 Greetings one and all!

I hope everyone is well during this crazy time of pandemic, virus, illness and so much uncertainty. It's been more than a year since I posted an update here on my blog.

Lots of things have happened:

 1) We moved twice and landed in our forever home with a pool (Mar 2020).

 2) We lost our rescue dog, Annie due to old age and cancer (Jul 2019). 

 3) We adopted a new rescue pup (June 2020). 

 4) My son went into the Navy (finishing basic training as of Aug 2020). 

 5) I joined hubby as a self-employed / work from home person (due to Covid).

 6) My daughter, kids, and her military husband moved to Ohio (she's expecting Jan 2021).

 7) I turned 60 years young (Aug 2020). 

 8) I increased exposure and social media as a singer/voice of my inner child PenelopePuppet.

 9) I shifted from strictly Keto after 3 years to low-carb/gluten free way of life/eating. 

10) I shifted my creative focus as an artist to include veils, accessories, jewelry, acrylic painting, and up-cycling all kinds of objects. 

11) I took the plunge and dyed my own hair a few color mix of red, orange, and pink. 

12) I REALLY go into gardening a 1 acre property. 

Bottom line:  I need to find a new focus after all of these life changes and would welcome topic ideas for future blog posts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Keto Way of Life/Eating: Tracking to Hit Macros & Get Essential Nutrients

The most crucial things I have found living a keto way of life is getting the essential nutrients, and hitting my macros.

In an earlier post, I talked about calculating your keto macros to get the right ratio of protein and fat while you're trying to live a very low carb life.

Here's my current keto macros and you can see the URL to calculate your own:

My Keto Macro Calculations

I've always tracked my food, not because I'm obsessed by calories (or eating too much). On the contrary, I naturally forget to eat and tend to not eat enough generally. When I first started keto, my inadequate protein consumption led to hair loss and muscle wasting!!

I keep myself on track nutritionally by tracking food consumption using "My Fitness Pal."
Some people don't officially track their food and do fine, but it's too easy for me to be off track.

BOTTOM LINE:  In my personal opinion, just get nutritional values for your list of foods so you can do a quick check to make sure you have the right balance for you and your goals.

I do a quick manual check every couple of days to make sure I'm on track.
The REASON I do a MANUAL check is because none of the apps track net carbs, which is what we care about. :-)

I admit I DO get CARRIED AWAY because I like spreadsheets!!!

Monday, June 10, 2019

My Supplement List: As Part of My Keto Way of Life

My Supplement List:  As Part of My Keto Way of Life

You’ll want to do your own research based on what you need as a supplement to what you eat. Because my diet will vary from someone else’s, my supplement list is provided as an illustration only. However, the essential elements for electrolyte balance are Sodium— Potassium—Magnesium (see below).

For me, the most comprehensive vitamin that provides BOTH my supplemental vitamin needs as well as my micronutrients is Vita4Life Multi-Plus Formula. It is the closest “one pill” solution I have found outside of my food intake--I buy mine on Amazon (search for Vita4life Multi-Plus).

3 x day multi-vitamin that gives nearly 100% requirements for the following vitamins and minerals:
Vit A, C, D3, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, B5, Iron, Zinc, Selenium

Provides trace amounts (less than 50%) for Vit K, B3, folic acid, biotin, calcium, magnesium, chromium

The multi-vitamin is not 100% so I add the following additional supplements:
Calcium, Mag & Zinc (500mg/250/mg15mg) per serving x 2 capsules daily
Nature’s Way is the gluten free, non-filler blend that I take. 

Probiotics (40 billion CFU)—one capsule twice a day
I take it after my first meal and after my last meal of the day.

Turmeric (with curcumin and ginger)—one capsule twice a day
Turmeric is an amazing anti-inflammatory. 40+ should consider adding this supplement to help naturally reduce inflammation caused by overuse, stress, and general exercise.
I take it after my first meal and after my last meal of the day.

D3—dosage varies (in Winter or gloomy days ONLY)
Many people over 40 or 50 are deficient in D3. If you don’t get enough sunlight and/or avoid dairy, you may be deficient. I take D3 daily in the winter, but do not take it in the summer.

B 12 (take one sublingual 1.000 mcg daily)

Since I am naturally hyper and high energy, I find a B12 once a day to boost my immune system and keep me from rarely getting sick. It’s important to buy B12 with METHYLcobalamin NOT CYANOCOcobalamin which is synthetic and contains traces of arsenic!!

Biotin (10-30 mcg)
Many folks on Keto complain of hair loss and less than healthy finger nails. I started by adding one Biotin tablet daily and increased to 2 x a day.

Essentials for Electrolyte Balance:  Sodium – Potassium - Magnesium
Getting enough potassium and sodium on Keto is a real challenge for me.

Sodium Aim for an extra 3,000mg sodium daily via:
·         Pink Himalayan / Celtic Sea salt (not standard table) or broth / bouillon 240 mg (1-2 cups per day) OR consider table salt with iodine since the average American is iodine deficient and pink Himalayan salt does not provide an advocate supply of iodine, so I TRY to add 1/4 = 1/2 tsp of table salt.

Potassium Recommended: Men & Women: ¼ tsp x 2 = 1,200 max or 600 mg x 2 daily
Symptoms of low sodium include fatigue, headaches, compromised ability to perform (especially outdoors in the heat) and in more serious cases you may pass out.
·         Remember that most of the sodium in your body is found in your bloodstream, so if your body gets deficient, you don’t have many reserves to tap into.
·         In the first few weeks on a keto diet, only about half of your weight loss is from body-fat. The other half is from water and sodium loss. Therefore, getting enough sodium is crucial.
Potassium is present in every cell of your body and plays a vital role in muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, and maintenance of fluid balance. Experts consider adequate potassium intake a way to keep blood pressure in check and to promote bone health.

Low potassium affects your risk of stroke and other conditions to such an extent that the FDA now allows potassium-rich foods to carry the following claim: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."

People who have high blood pressure should generally strive to get more than the daily recommended intake of potassium (but should get their doctor's approval first). Although it is not known if the need for potassium increases with age, the risk of high blood pressure does increase with age, making it more important to get plenty of potassium. Many medications that are prescribed to treat high blood pressure are diuretics, which deplete the body of potassium, increasing the need even more!!
Recommended: Men: 420mg a day; Women: 320mg a day (my combo is 250 mg x 2)
Like calcium and vitamin D, magnesium is an essential nutrient for bone health. It is VERY important to note that magnesium’s importance in the body is far-reaching. Why? Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic processes in the body, including muscle contraction, protein synthesis, cell reproduction, energy metabolism, and the transport of nutrients into cells. Magnesium is most studied for its role in bone health, blood pressure regulation, cardiovascular health, and diabetes. Several studies show some elderly people get little magnesium in their diets. In addition, as we get older, magnesium absorption decreases and excretion in urine increases which leads to magnesium depletion and deficiency.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Keto On! Trying to Maintain a Keto LifeStyle After One Year

My journey to the Keto lifestyle came from a friend I sing with who lost almost 200 pounds by following a Keto lifestyle. I was already gluten free, and had given up all starches except toast, gluten free crackers, and movie popcorn.

Since going through early menopause nearly 20 years ago, my always slim figure had gained 20 unwanted pounds over the course of a 10 year period. I was lucky that the weight gain wasn't obvious and I was working out and dancing ballet 4-6 days a week to stay in shape...until my injury.

After my injury I was unable to dance for three years and gained an additional 20 pounds--pre-diabetes was now rearing its ugly head!!

I decided to increase my exercise and joined a Warrior Fitness Challenge against seven other women--most young enough to be my daughter.

I started the Keto way of eating by doing the following:

1. I calculated my macros

2. I created a nutrition log where I calculated all nutritional information for everything I ate by hand.

3. I tried keeping a food log in FitBit, and then changed to using MyFitnessPal

4. I had trouble getting enough calories and hitting my daily macros, so I started to search for Keto recipes to add calories and variety to my diet (fat bombs too!!)

After nearly nine months of disciplined focus, I lost the 45 pounds AND won the Warrior Fitness Challenge.

Now I'm in maintenance mode and finding that I'm bored with eating the same 20 things...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

But who wants a Non-traditional Formal Wedding Gown?

I've been in the wedding gown re-creation business since 1999. I have dabbled in re-creating timeless vintage gowns by embellishing them with sumptuous laces.

Three years ago I ventured into custom dyeing these gorgeous vintage gowns. I had several reasons for doing this:

1. I found that most brides want strapless gowns and very few were interested in a vintage gown for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason vintage gowns are such a niche market is due to the fact that most modern gowns are designed with a much different look than many of my vintage gowns.

2. Sizing is also a major factor in trying to find a market for any vintage gown. Many gowns are very small in the waist and/or bustline that there just isn't a market for the large volume of size 2, 4, 6, or 8. This coupled with the reasons listed in 2. above add to the challenge.

3.  Creative, artistic expression and experimentation!! Yes, I am inspired by each gown. I study each gown and it speaks to me about what to do with it. It's like architecture--there's a sense of style and composition that inspires each creation.

With more than 30 vintage gowns in my current inventory, I am designing each one with care because they are one-of-a-kind creations that cannot be replicated easily.

Once these 30 vintage gowns have been re-born, I will venture into color creation of wedding veils and veil and headpiece design in general.

PS I am also re-creating a few gowns that are not traditional wedding gowns--think Edwardian period.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Inspiration on Finding Ways to Keep Vegetarian & Vegan Eating Healthy and Organic

Spaghetti squash is great substitute for pasta in recipes

Even people who eat healthy on a regular basis get bored. For me, I go through phases where plain water is just plain boring. Depending on the season I mix it up.  For example, in the summer I make diluted green tea with lemon grass with one teabag soaked in 48 ounces of hot water, chill and drink. Personally I find that what I like to drink for hydration depends on the season. This is all in attempt to get at least 60 ounces of water intake per day. Water intake is particularly important if you eat a high fiber diet.

Eating foods that are healthy, but you'd rather not

Another challenge for me is I love vegetables, but I don't like fruit. How do you eat healthy foods that you would rather not eat? I make a point of putting fruit in my green smoothie with vegan protein powder. Or put a bit of fruit in your  daily leafy green salad. If all else fails, cut that apple in half and share it with someone (thanks hubby!!)


If you don't eat meat you need to make sure that you get enough healthy lean protein. I rely heavily on nuts and seeds. The challenge is finding them in raw form. If you are lucky enough to find huts in raw form, it's important to prepare them properly to avoid digestive problems and a broken tooth!! I soak my raw almonds for 12 hours in cool water. Then rinse them, put them in a food processor to grind them slightly, and spread them on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.  Next put a thin layer of coconut oil on a cooking sheet, spreading out the almonds in a single layer, and bake at 250° for 20 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and mix them on the baking sheet with a spatula and set to cool. After they cool, I grind them one more time to help reduce the size of the pieces.

Beans and lentils are also a great source of protein.further. I recommend searching on the Internet for healthy gluten-free vegetarian  and/or vegan recipes  to give yourself ideas and inspiration on adding variety.

homemade veggie burgers
The most important thing is to start with healthy ingredients. 

Fruits & Vegetables

Remember, fruits and vegetables with thin skins MUST be purchased organic. Thin-skinned fruits and vegetables absorb pesticides and you don't want to inadvertently ingest something unhealthy or harmful. 

Produce Labels

When reading produce labels remember what the first digit represents:
  • 9 is fine (code for organic)
  • 8 you hate (code for genetically modified aka GMO
  • Four digit label is conventionally grown

Bottom line: preparing your own meals with quality items is less expensive than eating out and healthier too.

READERS:  I would love your feedback on what you do to keep your healthy eating from being boring. Please post comments and share with others.