Reading this article has made me take stock of the past 365 days.
A lot has happened, plenty has changed, some remains the same!
When approaching my 42nd birthday last year, we were living in Longmont. I was not working, but was spending my time studying for the NETA Group Fitness Instructor certification test. I wasn't sure where the certification would take me nor how long it would take to get there. I was just motivated to make a career change!
Just before taking my test, I started a 2-week free trial at Fit Chick Express. Within that two weeks, I had decided I would approach Angie, the gym owner, about an internship or the like. To my surprise and delight, SHE approached me with the subject first. I spent the summer leading boot camp classes, meeting & becoming friends with amazing women and helping Angie have some freedom (of time and finances) to enjoy the months leading up to her wedding.
I continued to delve into my health and wellness interests and received a specialty certificate, also from NETA, as a Longevity Wellness Specialist.
We volunteered at our first Denver ComicCon! Coming down from Longmont to work early shifts and then spending the afternoon walking the convention and having a bite to eat in the city.
We participated in our first Denver Pride! We enjoyed a day of activities at Civic Center Park, amid the sunshine & rainbows! We also were volunteers during the Pride Parade!
My mom made her first trip to Colorado, which included a trip to one of the dispensaries, of course! We took her to Boulder and Estes Park, two of our favorites. But heading into the mountains and back is not on any future itineraries for her! I flew back to Florida with her and spent a fantastic week with all of my family!!
I had the pleasure of a somewhat leisurely summer, affording me opportunities to forge relationships...strong friendships...with some of my Fit Chicks! While simultaneously becoming a confident fitness instructor! I knew I would have to leave the fun, friendly, crazy confines of Fit Chick Express in August, but I kept my focus on how much fun I was having, especially with the 6AM bootcampers!
At the same time, we were looking for our next apartment....in Denver! Chris did most of the actual looking at places, since he spent his workdays in the city, while I did internet searches. This would be our first time living the city life!! Looking for our next place was a little daunting....not as easy as I have experienced for our last two moves. We secured a roomy one-bedroom in an architecturally-stunning complex, Vitruvius.
I got my nose pierced!
We made our move, slowly, over the month of August. Our leases overlapped, so we would bring stuff down to the new apartment in our vehicles and packed up the rest in a moving truck near the end of the month.
Just like one year before, I was once again without work and friends. I started my job search right away and found myself working at Matrix Fitness & Spa at the beginning of September. I have enjoyed improving my fitness instructor skills while teaching (and getting certified in) TRX, an abs-centric class, cardio kickboxing (which they put on the schedule for me and which I grew from a 30-minute class to an hour!), a booty-focused class (again that I asked for), as well as getting to know many of my fellow trainers (personal and group) and getting the chance to sub the classes they teach!
I have continued to blog here and started a second blog, specific to travel. I am in the process of having my own website and plan to have it live by the end of this month! I want to migrate this site and my other to my website, where I will also post about Juice Plus + and fitness & wellness.
We adventured to Puerto Rico, spending most of that vacation off the main island on Vieques. While at first I didn't think I would like it much, we quickly discovered that a dream of our past bubbled to the surface. We made the decision during this amazing trip to move to an island....before retirement. We have made lists of islands to visit and are going to vacation over the next 3-5 years at each of them to figure out which one matches us & our dreams! We are growing our passions now and will continue to pursue them for pleasure and profit. We are also working on a plan to open either a small coffee/pastry truck or drink shack (Mojica's Banana Cabana)!!! Just something to make a little more money, but only take up a few hours each day.
We have made new friends in the city and spend time clubbing with them! We are living a 20-something life some weekends! Something we missed out on completely, since we were married & in college during those years.
I get to stay in touch with my Fit Chicks! I am hoping to become an integral part of the community again soon, albeit virtually, and I look forward to more times spent in person with the group and individuals: coffee dates, lunch breaks, Super Saturday workouts, stand-up paddle boarding!
The sun is shining today and I am sitting outside a coffee shop to write. I am on the verge of my first online business venture and, possibly, picking up a gig at a second gym. I get to teach Booty Blast, Power Abs and TRX tonite as I bid farewell to this past year.
I am on the eve of 43 today!
I am filled with ideas, inspiration, motivation and excitement for the fullness this next year holds in store!
As I approach another birthday (just 3 more days at 42), I am working on new projects in health & wellness! Just like last year, when I was studying for my Group Fitness Instructor certification, I am branching out in another new direction! I am becoming a Wellness Guide (aka distributor) for Juice Plus +.
Not a mulitvitamin, weight loss product or fitness supplement, the Juice Plus + capsules or chewables are 20-30 fruits, veggies and grains in a concentrated form to help bridge the gap between the fruits and veggies we are eating everyday and what we should be eating everyday. Even with the mindful and healthy eating we practice, I know that I am not hitting my optimal target consumption of fruits & vegetables! And I don't want to miss out on all the antioxidant goodness that keeps me free of illness and disease (like cancer)!
I am pursuing this company because it IS about health & wellness, from birth to death! You can start your infant as soon as he/she is eating solid foods! Just by opening up a capsule and mixing the powder into their foods!!! Also, Juice Plus + is committed to children's health! For each adult portion of capsules or chewables, you can receive FREE product for children ages 4-18. And, guess what?! It doesn't have to be your child! That's right! You can get them for your niece/nephew, grandchild, neighbor's kid, what have you! Check out the Children's Health Study for more details!
Isn't that awesome?! While working on keeping yourself healthy, you can start your child(ren) on the lifelong path of wellness!!! For FREE!!!!!
A friend, another fitness professional, Stephanie, introduced me to the product. She began purchasing (from another distributor) and liked it so much that she became a distributor herself just to get it for a discount! She also told me that she has not been sick, to include a cold or flu, in 2 years!!!!
My "upline", Melanie, told me that she began using it specifically FOR her kids! She had 3 boys, all under the age of 5, with the oldest sick every few months, to include hospitalization. He missed more pre-school than he actually attended! She started the boys on Juice Plus + about two months before the oldest began kindergarten. He only missed ONE DAY that school year!!! After about 9 months in, she decided she must become part of the company that did this for her family! That was 5 years ago!!
As many of you know, I am highly motivated to live my best, my healthiest, my most vital life! Neither of my parents did so and my father lost his life at the young age of 49 1/2 to colon cancer and my mother suffers from COPD. My maternal grandfather is a colon cancer survivor....so I have that "scare" from both sides of my genetic pool! Additionally, my paternal grandmother died from cancer (tho I don't know the primary source).
I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disorder related to the thyroid, and, for which, I have to take hormone replacement to supplement what my body (the antibodies) targets and destroys.
I am fit & active! I currently teach 6 group fitness classes: TRX, kickboxing, booty and abs! I sub as often as I am asked! Juice Plus + is a perfect complement to how I live my life and how I will continue to live my life ~ radiant, relevant, inspired!
Juice Plus + also offers a complete protein powder and nutrition bars. These would be ideal for weight loss (when used as a meal replacement), for fitness goals (protein to build muscles) and on-the-go snacks! Chris and I like to take protein powder on vacation as it is an excellent wake up meal!!!
I hope I can share this with you and we can be on that journey of living a long & healthy life together!
Also check out Transform30, where we can jumpstart your transformation! This is also a good "program" for those already involved in fitness & health as a recharge to your system to get beyond plateaus!!!
Our time on Vieques seemed to pass too quickly! We kept ourselves busy discovering what La Nena had to offer!
On our first full day, we walked along the Malecon of Esperanza all the way to the end of Sun Bay Beach. On our way, we saw a group of people around a boat & trailer and had to see for ourselves what the hubbub was all about. A local had two tiger sharks! He had caught them about 2 miles out!! The biggest was about 10 feet! Both had already been gutted, but were still alive! One guy opened the mouth of the big one to show us its teeth! It was crazy! And it was the one time Chris didn't bring a camera ~ so we have no "evidence"!
Later that same day, we walked west on the hunt for Playa Negra, a beach with black sand. You can't walk the beaches to get from one to the next, so we were left walking the road! We walked and we walked...and we walked some more. We headed down a dirt road that we thought must take us to the beach (any beach), but we were wrong. We saw some folks in a rented Jeep sort of doing the same search as us. As we walked back to the road, we see a sign pointing to the east (from where we had come) that said Playa Negra and to the west Playa Grande! Back the way we came, we see that same Jeep that had just tried, unsuccessfully, another dirt road. Well, from what I read on the internet, it said we would have to walk/hike a bit down through some brushy areas to get to Playa Negra. We felt that the people in the Jeep just weren't willing to go that "extra mile" and had turned around. We made our way to a clearing above a ravine-like spot. After searching a bit, we found a way to make it down to the beach. While we didn't see a beach completely of black sand, we did see some here & there (and when we dug our feet in, it was under the tan sand). But it was soooo beautiful here! Peaceful, empty, the vast waters stretching as far as the eye can see!
It wasn't a swimming beach, too rocky, so we took lots of pictures and did some exploring, then started our couple mile return walk. As we are walking and talking, we see another sign for Playa Negra. A bit confusing, as we thought we had just been there!! Walking still east, we spy a guardrail on which is painted, in blue, Playa Negra with an arrow. What? Where were we before? Well, we are a bit tired and hungry, but we can't not go find it! Right?!? We head into the ravine and walk along a tree-covered path to the real Playa Negra! Another absolutely breathtaking beach that isn't to be missed! I don't know how, on foot, we missed the "sign" but I can say that we are so happy we did because we would never have discovered OUR beach.
While looking through some of the tourist reading material our airbnb hosts, Margo & Joe, left in the Casita, I learned that the 1963 movie "Lord of the Flies" was shot on Vieques, all around Esperanza! "Lord of the Flies" happens to be one of Chris's favorite books, as well as movies. He had no idea of the connection! The beaches of Sun Bay, Media Luna, Navio and Playa Grande all played roles in the film! The old sugar mill and pineapple factory were used to house the cast & crew! The skeletons of the structures are still standing and we were able to make our way in and around them. Chris took some eery pics, where nature has moved in to reclaim her land.
We only spent leisure time at the beach twice. The first was an early evening on the beach along the Malecon. The second, and longest, was our last afternoon, where we swam & snorkeled at Media Luna.
We weren't there at a time when the sunrises or sunsets were at the water's edge south of Esperanza, but the evenings were warm & relaxing. (And we have seen, and will see, many sunrises & sunsets along the watery horizon!)
We decided to give a scooter rental a whirl! A first for me!! Tuesday morning, about 11, we headed off to continue our adventurous exploring! For the next 5 hours, we scootered to the beaches on the west side, in and out of woods, along bumpy dirt roads, never really knowing if we were going to find what we were looking for or have to backtrack! It was one of our best decisions! Chris did awesome keeping us safe, especially when where we were riding would have been best navigated with a 4X4!! We found all of the beaches on our map and discovered a couple that weren't! We saw where so many of the wild horses gather. We felt the wind & the sun ... and the pure joy that this mode of travel affords.
We headed up to the north to find Mosquito Pier. Constructed in 1941 by the U.S Navy, Mosquito Pier was to be extended from Vieques to the main island of Puerto Rico; however, the project was abandoned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Today, scuba diving within its deep waters is popular. It is said this is a haven for sea turtles. In the more shallow waters leading to the pier, you will find starfish. We saw several, just standing on the rocks. Chris wanted to hop in, but it seemed risky, as it is very rocky here. (Of course, he regrets listening to me!)
We went into Isabel Segunda for a bite to eat. We were starving and pretty thirsty, having only one bottle of water that we rationed for 5 hours! We gassed up the scooter, grabbed some produce at the farmer's market (just as it was closing) and returned to Esperanza, buying another liter of sangria at La Tienda Verde. The next morning, we were up early, as usual, and hopped back on the scooter to visit beaches along the east.
We returned the scooter a couple hours early (to avoid using up any more gas because the only 2 gas stations are in the north). After a brief rest stop at the Casita, we re-packed our beach bag, to include snorkeling gear we borrowed from our hosts, and walked to Media Luna beach. We enjoyed a most relaxing afternoon of sun, sand and salt water. Chris snorkeled. I tried to snorkel! I swam and sat on my beach towel. We drank our sangria and ate hotdogs (warmed from the sun in our bag!)!!
That nite, our last nite, we did a bioluminescent bay tour! A MUST when you come to Vieques!! Pictures cannot do it justice. You simply have to be part of the experience for yourself. The sky was full of stars and numerous constellations ~~ it was like being inside a planetarium, but you are out there, in a kayak, looking up into the dark, vastness of our amazing galaxy!
There are three bio bays in Puerto Rico, with the one at Vieques' Mosquito Bay (not to be confused with Mosquito Pier) ranked the best. It is actually ranked among the top two or three in the world! Years ago, tour operators would allow guests to get out of their kayaks and swim in the bay. Not really knowing or understanding the delicate ecosystem of the dinoflagellates, what make the bay illuminate, the owners & guides were messing with the balance. Last year, I believe, the bay went completely dark! For months! I feel this was Mama Nature going dormant in an effort of self-preservation and to show humans that it was imperative they/we recognize the need to treat the bay differently!
Now....let me tell you a couple things: You are out there in complete darkness. The best time to take the tour is near a new moon (they won't even do tours near the full moon). The water is a black abyss. The bay is accessible to the Caribbean Sea, which means that anything out there can come into the bay. One of our tour guides said that 12 species of shark will be in & out of the bay!!! She also said that one nite while she & another guide were sitting in kayaks in the middle of the bay, a manta ray, with a wingspan as long as the kayak, swam beneath them!! And two couples on our tour saw something large swim below them....a shark, for sure! That said, there is no way, if it were still permissible, that I would get in that water!!! Even without the knowledge of how many species of shark or the manta ray story ~~~ this girl would not have been tempted to get out of the safety of the kayak!! No way, no how!
We saw fish swimming and jumping, their paths illuminated around us. I scooped up water a few times to see it like glitter in my hands. (And when our guide said it was good for the skin, I scooped up a bit more and bathed my face with it!!)
A woman from California was bitten by a shark a few years back. Because of this tragedy (she survived, it wasn't severe), rules & regulations that had been in place for years, but ignored, were now enforced. The entry to the bay saw improvements, too: a new parking lot, an illuminated walkway and a cleared dock/entry into the bay (where you get in the kayaks).
There was much we didn't experience, like walking the city streets of Isabel Segunda, finding the old military bunkers or seeing the archeological site where 2000 year old bones had been unearthed. There are a few well-known beaches on the east to which we didn't ride, but we saw so many others and wanted to just BE at Media Luna for hours (it is our favorite of all of the beaches, save for, maybe, Caballo Beach ~~ one we found and named!).
Vieques is an island about 4 miles long and 21 miles wide. It has beaches, forest and much in between. There are wild horses all around. You can spend your days exploring and/or lounging. There is no one way or wrong way to take in the splendor.
The past week, plus, has been a whirlwind of activity. Our time on Vieques brought to both of us a mind-shift.
Since before our return from Puerto Rico, we have been planning and strategizing how to live on an island before retirement age!! We have discussed other islands we would like to check out and know that over the next 5 years (or so) we will be taking tropical vacations to these places. Each island will be compared to previous ones as we assess where we want to set our compass (and send our few personal items that will join us). We, almost daily, discuss the pros and cons of island-life.
I am more motivated than ever to improve and build on my abilities as a fitness instructor. This is a "job" I can and will take with me anywhere we go! Workouts on the beach??! Who wouldn't join me in that??!! I plan to attain Pilates and Kettlebell certifications. I am going to pursue more training and practice with my own personal workouts to bring the best instruction I can to my own life and to my classes.
I have been working on my blogs, having created a new one about travel immediately upon our return. I am in the process of creating a website, a one-stop-shop, for all of my musings, interests and pursuits.
I am researching health and wellness products that I can offer and that can help create income now and when we are living the tropical life! I continue to read and educate myself about wellness, nutrition, longevity.
But it is very easy to get caught up in this whirlwind!! We are all guilty of going from one thing to the next, day after day, often on autopilot. Sometimes, I need to apply the brakes and remind myself to look around, be mindful, soak in the sunshine, radiate gratitude.
I am fairly certain that many of us grew up with a rough idea of what our "adult" lives would be. For many of you, what you dreamed, imagined, planned for, worked toward is exactly what you live. For others, your life is a pretty close approximation of how you figured it would turn out. The job, the family, the marriage, the home, etc. ~ the "American Dream". And for others still, you had "the good life" but, by mistake or accident, you are in a place you didn't expect. Then, there are a few who could never have anticipated the changes to come, how life would unfold.
I have come to believe, as many of you probably have, too, that what so many share on Facebook (or other social media, but I don't participate on those) is not completely authentic....sometimes, all-out false. And I wonder, WHY?! Why are these people, some I have known since high school (maybe earlier) and others that are more new to me, so caught up in their stories? Why are they so afraid to be real? Why do they only share what makes them "look good" or, more than likely, what makes them look better than everyone else they know!? I often wonder if these are smoke screens, a game of mirrors.
I have recently learned of divorces and serious health problems that have befallen a couple folks whom I know from high school. The same ones who will share all the "look at me, I'm so successful, I have so much money, my house is amazing, I drive only expensive luxury cars"......and on & on! A razor sharp focus on the outward "signs of success".
Often, I have unfriended this type of person on Facebook. I don't need those lifestyle things for my happiness or my health! I can't stand to be assaulted with the Kardashian-esque behavior. I like to interact, even virtually, with authentic, real, compassionate, grateful & truly happy people.
When I make the time to interact with the people I want in my life, I am surprised and pleased to learn of the amazing things they are doing, accomplishing, sharing in their lives! It inspires me! It helps keep me grounded and grateful and hopeful!!
I have chosen, over the years, to live a more minimal lifestyle. I don't find pleasure in things. I like to save my money to spend on experiences with Chris. I enjoy my free time ... that I can have because I don't have to work myself to death to pay all the bills for all of that expensive stuff. I can focus on my happiness, on my health, on my hobbies, on crafting my life and my future.
I never really had a life vision or plan. Well, I take that back! I did intend to move to California after high school graduation, attend cosmetology school and be a makeup artist and hair stylist for movies! I believe I could have pursued that...with Chris in tow! I don't think I ever really discussed it with him, tho, and we both just stayed in our hometown, eventually attending colleges. Coincidentally, Chris ended up attending a school where he obtained a degree in film & video!!! However, it seemed that at that point, when I already had a degree in criminal justice, that any dream of moving to California was dead.
So, my life (our life) over these years has played out in many ways, some expected (in line with the way things are traditionally done: marriage, get decent jobs, buy a home) and others a bit more whimsical (move to Florida where Chris got a job, move back to Indiana without jobs, sell our house for a move to Colorado with no jobs!).
Yet, the biggest change is one that I would NEVER ~ could never ~ have anticipated or planned. But, Chris and I love each other deeply, so we work on our marriage and our relationship. We live our life. We are thankful for what we have, most especially our health. We aren't consumed by the hype of pleasing anyone, other than ourselves. We won't create smoke & mirrors, putting ourselves into debt, living a falsehood. I don't need to impress anyone.
I feel sad for those people who showed all those photos of how super amazing his/her life was, but who are deeply in debt, divorced, were deceitful (to spouses and the FB community) and, worst of all, seriously ill. The stress of "keeping up with the Joneses" is real ~~ and it will create a giant impact. An impact that will scream for attention and if you continue to ignore it, it will be to your detriment: your health, your marriage, your business, your family.
I seek Abundance in my life, but it is not simply a financial equation. Abundance of health, happiness, longevity, vitality, wellness. An Abundance of gratitude, compassion, love, laughter and adventure. Abundance of insight, of mindfulness, of perspective, of generosity. I seek Abundance for my family and friends, too.
This is just a gentle reminder to stop and smell the roses, I guess! Check in with yourself everyday. Take stock. See how fortunate you are and be thankful. For all the health, love, happiness, compassion and generosity that surrounds you is life, is success, is the bottom line (as well as the starting line and the finish line!!)!!
I have a spouse who is my best friend and with whom I like to spend most of my time! I have my 2 furbabies (who are both cuddled with/near me in bed...my office...as I type), who give me unconditional love and playtime! I have the love & support of my family and so so many friends. I can participate in so many activities because I have my health and it is one of my top priorities. I have enough food to eat and can enjoy a glass of wine, if I want. I have time to read, to surf the interwebs, to hang in a coffeeshop and write. I have more than some, less than others ~ but I don't need much so I don't have much. I can talk with my mom on the phone, usually once a week, to catch up with her and the rest of my Florida family members.
There are so many more things I could list. I find that once I start my list, I can always find more and more to add! I suspect you will find the same! From the "little" to the "big" stuff. Shine the light on the good, the positive, aspects that bring you joy each day.
'Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience' is the name of a book by Elizabeth Dodson Gray that I read during our travels, filling time on the plane rides. I picked it up at this spot in our laundry area where our fellow apartment dwellers (and ourselves) will leave things, like books, coffeepots, various other household items and, just this week, I saw a ratty sombrero! I grabbed two books; if I didn't like one, then I could try the other!
'Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience' is a collection of autobiographical stories, written in topics such as: Women's Creativity, Creating Sacred Space, Feeding as Sacred Ritual and Our Bodies as Sacred.
I am not a "traditionally" spiritual person as the women authors in this book are; however, the concept of the sacred, especially as it relates to the divinity within women, is part of my personal spiritual practice.
I would like to share some passages that struck a chord with me.
From the Introduction:
A woman walks the tightrope of her life as an accomplished high wire artist, making it look easy to juggle many balls while riding a bicycle and keeping aloft a pink parasol.
But I now feel that finding my own voice and listening and connecting to the voices of other women so that together we form a collective women's voice, is sacred work.
My power emerges from the wellsprings of who I am and reaches out to touch and connect with the lives of other women on similar journeys.
I am a conscious celebrant of the possible.
What I have come to see is that in our ability to live our creativity daily and in our search for such creativity, we can look as high as our creating life itself and living, and as low as the table set, the meal cooked and consumed, the dishes washed and put away. And we begin in this creativity again and again and again.
Back in the kitchen, I look out the window at the huge maple in my yard. Losing its leaves, it is prepared for another winter, I muse at its majesty and think I, too, must let go of the past season's fruit and growth to meet empty-handed tomorrow.
In describing the wisdom that is available to those who take the time to listen to the aged, (Irene) Burnside points out that the aged can teach us about life, death, courage, love and generosity. They are a "distinguished faculty without formal classrooms, tenure, sabbaticals. They teach not from books but from long experience in living."
In these moments of deep harmony together as mother and daughter, I was slowly becoming aware of the healing presence of the sacred.
Listening has become for me not only the language of love buy my pathway to an increasing consciousness of the sacred.
From Creating Sacred Space:
We moved to an intuitive response to the potential of water as a symbol of women's spirituality.
Recalling this now, I find myself thinking of God when God made the first rainbow, perhaps asking Herself, Does this color go right next to that color?
If our sensual and sexual lives are a gift from God given to us by the gift of our bodies and our lives and our love, then bedrooms should facilitate by scent (perfume, incense), by sound (music), and by sight a holy and satisfying erotic life.
The rooms my friend created in house after house tracked the changes in her life and spirits as they unfolded decade by decade.
Surrounding the primal pair are whirling lotus spheres, potent with Shakti, female cosmic energy, the activating force of nature.
Even more important, there is the need to acknowledge and honor those biological changes in our bodies which are unique to us as women and which constitute our rites of passage. We need to honor our body changes of menstruation, sexual initiation, and menopause.
It is a tapping into the collective ground water that flows among us; the collective energy of the goddess, the liberating, transforming power which is in each of our sisters and in the sister within our brothers.
We must lift up life-giving symbols and keep them before us as symbols of our woman's identity, symbols of our empowerment, our questioning, our imagination and creativity, our energy and loyalty, our nurturing and love.
From Doing Housework:
Cleaning the house becomes a metaphor for opening the heart; I am literally cleansed when I am working with the right intention.
The linking back in time provided by this kind of knowledge is one of the major benefits that ritual enactment bestows on its participants. In such enactment women celebrate the unstoried pattern of Hestia, goddess of the hearth.
From Feeding as Sacred Ritual:
Woman is as common as a loaf of bread, and like a loaf of bread, will rise.
Such work becomes sacred, I now think, when we focus creative energy into doing something, or making something, that contributes to the health and healing, to the well-being and wholeness, of ourselves and others.
From Our Bodies Are Sacred:
In this bonding women are beginning to accept and affirm our natural diversity of size, shape, weight, handicap, age, race, and sexual orientation.
As she felt the fathomless power of this place, she had a sudden vision, a voice--perhaps ancestral, perhaps her own--ringing in her mind's ear saying, "I am the oldest temple. This, my body, is the oldest temple."
The ending of one family and the beginning of a "family of choice" is just as sacred as traditional definitions of family.
I have learned to trust that when my writing is most open and vulnerable, it is also most powerful, most likely to touch a chord and to influence change in others.
It is not surprising that in Western societies the Crone aspect of the goddess of earlier times has never existed in any of her forms except in a negative way.
However the old witch is not burned at the stake any more. She has been replaced by the benign grandmother who, unlike the witch, is perceived as a useless object.
Yes, my body is myself, and related to the universe. It is indeed sacred.
...rejoicing is the flow of Being in the universe. This rejoicing, this flow of being, is the intention of creation. This is the intention of the overflowing and bubbling up energy of creativity which has brought everything in this 193-billion galaxy universe into being.
It had perfect places but I had to seek them out and enjoy them and make use of them. Then like the birds and their nests, I had to sense changes and know I'd seek other perfect places, other places to sing and to be.
Perhaps we have only to step one microsecond to the side, into our own centeredness, to find that deep connectedness to the whole chorus, and to come home again to ourselves.
Can you say business opportunity??? The few restaurants on the Malecon which offer breakfast don't start serving until 9AM. That doesn't help those of us who are early risers and have no access to a coffeepot or kitchen! The only place we found to get coffee, early, is the panaderia. It is open 7A-11A....but is closed Sundays & Mondays. (Our first full day was a Sunday!!) The panaderia also sells pastries, the only we could find in that part of Vieques, too (they serve breakfasts and sub sandwiches and seem to be a spot for the locals, always a good sign!).
Some of us also like a place to relax, unwind, get caffeinated throughout the day.
Some of us don't want to hit Happy Hour every evening just to have a place to enjoy the outdoors, the ambiance that is the boardwalk of Esperanza.
One of the coolest things about Vieques, besides all of the pristine beaches, of course, is the presence of wild horses. They will be strolling down any street, grazing in the grassy areas (or picking thru garbage bins when there hasn't been enough rain to keep the grasses lush), sipping water from tiny pools amid the shade of trees. They are so beautiful and I don't think it is something I would ever get used to or take for granted, if I live there.
On the flipside are the homeless dogs. They all seem so friendly and I wish I could give them food, shelter and love...but that is impossible when on vacation. It is funny, however, to see them trying to figure out if they can compete with a horse for a mango lying on the ground!!
Roosters!! And hens & chicks. But the roosters, as is their nature, are the noisiest little things around! I think they crow (is that the right word??) just to hear themselves! A conversation of one! If you are unlucky enough to be staying near a home with a rooster, I hope you are lucky enough to have an air conditioner for your room to help you sleep at nite. But they make noise night AND day!
Bring more cash than you think you need!
Our original travel plans included rental cars, which we would have paid for with a credit card. We changed to taxis, which were cash (just under $200). We decided to rent a scooter for the day, $55, and their credit card "machine" was down. More of our cash stash we had to, unexpectedly, use. Many of the businesses, like excursions, will charge you $5 (each) for using your credit card over paying with cash. While $5 or $10 won't break the bank, I really don't like to waste my money on service charges (especially when they are being passed on by the merchant, for whom this is a cost of doing business). We used our credit card for all meals and were watching our cash closely by mid-week.
Yes, you can drink the water (on the main island, Puerto Rico, and the smaller islands, Vieques and Culebra)!!! So bring those refillable water bottles and stay hydrated!
Use sunscreen. At least SPF 55. Apply it liberally. Reapply it often! Avoid sunburns, which might ruin or, at least, hamper your trip. While also warding off the peeling that will follow once you return from the island and are loving your golden glow (which is making all of your friends and coworkers so green with envy!!)!
Have an idea of what you would like to see and do while on the island. Time can easily slip away while you are walking the Malecon, dipping your feet in the azure waters of the sandy beaches and sleeping your nights away under the dark sky lit only with the stars (there are no streetlights). There are so many beaches to see (and you, like us, might not get to every single one), historical spots to visit (former US Navy pier, old pineapple factory, former sugar mill, site where a 2000-year old skeleton was unearthed), excursions to take (scooters, catamarans, scuba, stand-up paddle boarding) and ways to just wile away the hours (this one is up to your own imagination!). Mix it up and do a little bit of each every day, if you can. Or....if what you really want is to lounge on the beach and laze in some calm waters, then get thee to the beach early with plenty of provisions (most of the beaches do not have food/drink facilities, or bathrooms).
There is no "wrong" way to enjoy Vieques. Chatting with locals and other tourists, like yourself, could lead to an opportunity! Mama Nature might not give you the weather most preferable for all of the outdoor activities. Craft a visit around your needs & wants ... but also remain flexible. You may not see and do everything on your list, but that just means you enjoyed some relaxing down-time ~~ and, really, isn't that what vacations are meant to be??!!
In my previous post, I wrote about our travel issues getting out of Denver. While waiting for our redeye flight out, I had to do some land travel rearranging. We were going to rent a car at the airport and drive to Fajardo for the ferry to Vieques. A one-way rental for just a couple hours. When I contacted Enterprise to let them know we would be picking up the car several hours later than the original reservation, I was told the cost is over $60 more!!! I am looking at my email AND at my reservation online while talking with the representative....somehow, she is NOT seeing what I am seeing! So rather than about $56 for the one-way, we are looking at $120! Uh....No! I scramble and do some searching on the internet for other options. I knew there were taxis with a cost near $100 (not per person, but for about 5-7 people...so this is a very good option if you have a group as you can split the cost). I stumbled into a forum that began back in 2008 and read many of the posts over the years, with the most recent being in 2013, if I am correct. Someone mentioned a guy named Henry or Henri or Enrique (Enri) and said he was great and charged about $80. I figured I would give him a call to see if he is still running his service. To my delight, he answered the phone and said it would be $70! I got online and cancelled our one-way rental car! When I called to let him know we had arrived at SJU, he let me know that he wasn't feeling well and sent someone in his place. During that same phone call, I asked if he could pick us up from the ferry on Thursday and drive us to Old San Juan, to which he agreed and said it would be $80. (When I next got a chance, I cancelled the other rental car reservation.) He gave me the driver's name and told me that the white van would have it's lights flashing. We easily found Victor when he arrived and off we went to Fajardo.
Let me say, NOT getting a rental car was a great decision! Our messed up travel plans, while taking away 7 hours of our vacation, did keep us from driving in the crazy traffic, along a route that, at times, is not well marked! Also, after such a frazzling trip of flights, waiting hours in two airports and only getting snippets of sleep here & there, we know that trying to navigate the highways and byways from San Juan to Fajardo would have left us rattled. Letting someone else take the wheel was needed at this stage of our travels. The costs were very comparable, too: Enterprise ~ $56 + gas and $109 + gas on the original reservations tho I suspect they would have thrown a bunch of other fees at us and forced us to pay them (to include the $60 drop-off fee for the one-way); Henry ~ $70 + tip and $80; Taxi to the airport ~ $25 with tip. I am happy to give you Henry's contact information. He also lived in New York and is a US veteran!!
Victor dropped us off at the ferry dock, let us know where we needed to go to purchase our tickets (I got round trip) and pointed us in the direction of some food & drink. We paid him and he was on his way...maybe for another roundtrip to the airport and back.
Having a bit over 2 hours to kill before the next ferry arrived at 4:45, we did a quick freshening up in the ferry terminal bathroom and drug ourselves to the bar, where we enjoyed cervezas while sitting on the patio under the shade of a tiki-style umbrella, looking at the water. Into our second cervezas, a couple locals sat next to us. One of them, William, was born in Puerto Rico, but went to the States as a young boy, growing up there and getting a degree, then coming back to the main island about a year and a half prior. He was fun to chat with about many things, to include the UFC! As we parted he said it had been a pleasure for him because he got to speak English with us!!
We got to the ferry station and noticed two roped off areas, one looked to be filled with darker-skinned locals, the other with pasty non-residents like myself! We got in line and as we got closer to boarding the ship, we were told to wait as we were not residents....who are given preference for boarding, which means tourists may not get on the ferry they hope to catch. We acted as if we were going to follow her instruction, but when she turned, we got on the boat. There was no way in hell we weren't getting on this ferry! The next one did not leave until 8:15!!! And it is an hour & a half trip...to go 8 freakin' miles! We should have been on the 1PM ferry, but now we were on the evening one with so many Viequens headed back from the main island. It was rather noisy with lots of kids who had played sports games that Saturday afternoon. That said, Chris napped for most of the trip and I for a bit (those 2 beers, while thirst-quenching, weren't sitting all that great in my empty stomach on this choppy ride). Unfortunately, you cannot be outside the boat to enjoy the sun and sea air; however, inside is air-conditioned.
Once off the ferry, a publico driver asked, in Spanish, if we needed a ride to Esperanza. I asked how much (Cuantos?) and agreed (Si!) when he said $3 each. This publico was what we use in the States as shuttles to/from airports. Once he had about another 7-9 people on board (gotta make the money!!), we headed south to Esperanza. We were almost ~finally~ at our accommodations!! In Spanish, I told him where we were staying and, also in Spanish, we found it together! (I didn't recall the house being called Coco Loco, so when the driver said it as we were having a hard time finding the house number, it didn't click with me. I called our host's number and the voicemail said "Coco Loco"!! I informed the driver that, "Si, Si, es Coco Loco!!")
During our drive from the airport to the ferry, we were able to look around and take in much of Puerto Rico. Our first impression: Third World. Our drive from Isabel Segunda, the town on Vieques, to Esperanza, the southern area where we were staying, we maintained the same impression. We have only been to Mexico, back in 2006, so we don't have many other countries with which to make a comparison.
One of our hosts, Joe, greeted us at his gate and took us right back to the casita, the once former shed that had been converted into a small efficiency, where we would spend the next several nites. He gave us a quick rundown of things and let us be. We did a bit of freshening up and headed down to the Malecon, in search of food! We walked the stretch to see what was offered and made our way back almost to the beginning to share a chicken skewer meal at Belly Buttons. Picnic tables, fresh air, cooked-to-order food, nice staff and the sea just steps away...we would eat 3 of our 4 breakfasts here and another dinner.
I will share more details about how we spent our days in upcoming posts. I am also going to start a separate travel blog to give more general information mixed with our impressions. I will post a link here when I get the new site created and post my first blog entry. I hope you visit me here and there!
We left our home at 4:30P to head to the hotel where we are parking our car during our vacation. We were shuttled to the airport about 6 and our flight was to leave at 8:06. We had a very small window, about 25 minutes, for our connecting flight from Houston to San Juan. We were able to get our seat assignments moved up 17 rows in order to get off quicker, so that we could hot foot it over to the boarding plane.
Then, our departure time was changed, slightly, to 8:18. We were on one of the last "blocks" and while waiting for our number to be called for boarding, we were informed that NO PILOTS were on the plane and none would arrive for over 2 hours!!!! This flight would now leave at 10:45.
Our connecting flight was leaving at 11:55.
There was absolutely no way we were making it to San Juan by 5:30A!!!
We had to wait in line at United customer service to see what flight we could be rerouted on.
We ended up with a new flight, connecting through Newark....on a redeye!!!
Then, we discover that Chris was given Standby!! The Newark flight was overbooked! We had to sit and wait until everyone had boarded to see if Chris was going to get a seat. I wanted to vomit! I wanted to scream! I wanted to cry!!
After the scrambling we had to do ~even debating if we should just scrap it all~ here we were in the most tenuous of positions.
Fortunately, a seat was found and we took off!
We are remaining positive that our checked bag made it to this flight and off the Houston leg!
We decided to cancel the one-way rental car, and found some great online reviews about a guy, "Enri", to drive our tired asses to the Fajardo ferry terminal. Not having any real inkling of the route from the airport to the car rental office in Fajardo was a bit off-putting already...trying to do it utterly without sleep, is more than daunting.
We should be arriving for sunrise in San Juan, Puerto Rico, any minute. Rather, we are sitting in the Newark airport. Our connecting flight doesn't leave until 9, leaving us over 3 hours to kill here.
We are exhausted with no where to lay our weary heads and we are arriving in San Juan at midday, catching the ferry almost 3 hours later than we had wanted.
I guess this is a lesson to teach us the patience we might need once we begin foreign travel. I suppose I have handled it better than I would have a handful of years ago.
Looking on the bright side....we are heading to Puerto Rico! We have beaches on our horizon! We are going to sleep under the sun on the sand, lulled by the sound of the waves. We get to kayak for the first time together, at nite, under an almost new moon, with the bioluminescent dinoflaggelates illuminating our path.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and I agree, wholeheartedly!!!
I have been fortunate to be "raised" by so many amazing women in my years! My parents divorced when I was in elementary school and my mother moved from Indiana to Florida when I was in 6th grade. I definitely needed women in my life to help me with "stuff"!
My dad had some girlfriends and other wives over the years, but only one really & truly brought meaning to my life, Judy. Judy started to teach me to drive. She and I joined a health club. She showed me how to be both silly & generous when driving the highway and going through toll booths (this was back when there were actual people in the toll booths!!)! She was light-hearted and carefree!
One of my dad's sisters would take me shopping for school clothes. My Aunt Marla
was quite the shopper, too! She knew deals and helped outfit me with some nice clothes that saved my dad some cash! A win-win for us both!!! She would also give me many of her hand-me-downs, which were always name brands!
When I "became a woman", as they say, my gifted & talented teacher, Mrs. Hanson, had to take me to the nurse. The next day, she gave me a felt rose with a beautiful note welcoming me to this important change in my life.
Throughout most of high school, I lived with my aunt and uncle. My Aunt Nita became a second mother to me. She fed me, cleaned my clothes, gave me my own bedroom, helped me get ready for prom, threw us a small wedding reception and my college graduation party....among so many other things. She introduced me to coffee. We, along with another of my aunts, binged on Fannie Mae chocolates, just for the sheer lunacy of it! She was there for me when we put my brother on a plane to live with my mom in Florida. She was there for me when my dad was off doing his own thing. She was there when I married Chris. She was our place to go for every holiday, when we lived in northwest Indiana!!
My friend John's mom, Dolores, was a gem in my high school years, too. Lucky for me, they lived just around the corner! I almost lived with them, actually, before we moved in with the family. She and I had private jokes and she just has the sweetest soul! I love the whole Stillson clan, to include Dolores's sister, Dorothy! Dolores is the epitome of what any girl would want for a mother-in-law! (Ellen, John's wife, is one lucky gal!)
For many years, I was the youngest wherever I worked and at many places I was blessed with women who gave me advice and support, in a myriad of ways.
My grandma is incredible when I visit my family in Florida! She makes my favorite cookies, no-bake chocolate! She brings them to the airport, along with a sandwich and other goodies, for my car ride! She will also send me back to the airport with provisions! And she & my grandpa just take amazing care of feeding us when we are their guests!!
My uncle's wife, Betty, is the consummate hostess! She was always at the ready when anyone dropped by and, when most of us still lived in Crown Point, theirs was the house to gather for any and all events! Chris and I lived with Uncle Mark, Betty, Kyle & Matt for about 5 months when we returned from Florida in 2001 (just before we bought our house in Hobart) and Sundays were a day we all congregated for a meal. Betty always turned it out! It reminded me of the movie "Soul Food" where the extended family gathered on Sundays for a big meal at the grandma's home. We began calling our Sunday meals "Big Betty's Soul Food for White People"! Which also became the name of her personal cookbook!!! Even after they moved, visiting their home was like staying at a B&B! No lie!!! I wish I had a tenth of her innate hostess abilities!
Now, here I am, early 40's with years of life & work experience under my belt. I feel it has become my time to return the graciousness and the wisdom shared so generously with me by the variety of goddesses brought into my life at certain times and for specific reasons. The goddesses who taught me without necessarily knowing they were giving a lesson.
Like today, my aunt and her husband (she is no longer married to my uncle) are arriving for a visit in Denver, to see her son, her granddaughter and us! In advance, I helped her find a place to stay that wasn't a hotel. Also, I know how hard travel days can be, so rather than waiting to take her to the grocery store, I bought a few staples (bread, PB&J) and shared some of ours (butter, water, ham from Sunday's Easter meal, eggs, mustard & mayo...and the chocolate mousse cake) for something to eat (that wasn't fast food!) the moment they got to their rental place. This I learned, picked up, from the women in my life!!
May we all be the community who shares our gifts, teaching valuable lessons, even when we aren't aware we are doing it. May we be The Village!
Another family meal shared with my cousin, Matthew, his now fiancee, Megan, and Hushpuppy!!
Just the family for this gathering! We enjoyed a simple meal that started with bacon & jalapeno deviled eggs, made by Megan, and baked almond-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates, made by me. Mmmm!!!
Chris and I made a spiral-sliced ham, mashed cauliflower and mixed veggies, which we ate with rolls M&M brought.
Dessert.....well, since Chris works at a university with a strong culinary program and where the chefs are very appreciative of the IT support he provides, we had a professionally-prepared chocolate and peanut butter mousse cake!!
After all this good food, we headed across City Park to the Denver Zoo! On this sunny & not-too-warm day, we enjoyed an hour & a half walk in fresh Colorado air.
My aunt, Matt's mom, and her husband are arriving tomorrow for a short visit. When we lived in Indiana, it was her home where we gathered for the holiday meals. We sure do miss her cooking!! I am going to share some of our leftover ham, plus pick up a few other grocery items, so they can have a meal once they arrive at their airbnb rental.
The other day on Facebook, a friend shared an article that reminded me how we can make small changes in our daily lives that will improve our health and help to extend our longevity....even without breaking a sweat!
FLOSSING our teeth can add anywhere from 1.5 - 6.4 years!!! The combination of fighting gum disease AND heart disease is flossing's "anti-aging" trick. As with any new activity that we want to make a habit, we need to create a routine. This morning while flossing, I thought about 3 things I wanted to accomplish today. One was this blogpost, so I was going over the things that I believe to be easy longevity tricks that I wanted to research and share. When flossing at nite, you can think about 3 things for which you are grateful from that day. Before you know it, you have flossed between every tooth while practicing daily mindfulness. Here is an article discussing the benefits and how-tos!!
Our bodies are comprised of 70% water. Thus, DRINKING WATER refills what we lose through perspiration and the daily behind-the-scenes working of our cells. It is recommended to drink half your body weight of water, in ounces (i.e. a 130 lb person needs to consume 65 ounces of water everyday). Our skin is our largest organ and it needs water to maintain firmness and elasticity, especially as we age. Often times when we think we are hungry, we are actually simply thirsty. Therefore, drinking water can help with weight loss (or maintenance). Not having enough water in our systems makes our muscles sluggish and we cannot perform physical activities well. That is especially true when exercising, so drink plenty of fluids enough in advance to get the results you are working toward. Water helps with elimination, keeping our kidneys and bowels healthy. This article will shed more light on these areas and gives five tips for getting more water into your day, to include by eating fruits & veggies!!
We can heal and enhance our bodies with the foods we eat and those we avoid. Following an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET, like this one recommended by well-respected Dr. Anthony Weil, helps work through and ward off chronic inflammation, which, when left unchecked, is what leads to diseases, like cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimer's, and, ultimately, death. Eating the right combination of proteins, carbs & fats, supplementing with vitamins and minerals and drinking plenty of water are the keys. Unfortunately, the typical American "diet" is completely unbalanced and includes far too many of the aggravating foods. Here is a quick article that provides a bit of detail on some antioxidants that are super beneficial for healing and maintaining a healthy systemic balance. Add and remove foods gradually as to not be completely overwhelmed by the process, thus avoiding falling into the trap of giving up.
Stress, especially the chronic type under which many people "operate" on a daily basis, is a killer! We must find ways to manage our stress to avoid an early death!! MEDITATION is one of those ways. It doesn't have to be transcendental, for hours at a time or even in a retreat setting, tho any of those can be part of your practice! However, setting aside several minutes in your day to center yourself, to be mindful, to go inward and work with your inner magic is equally beneficial and, quite frankly, what most of us will fit into our lives, at least initially. (I believe that once you start making many positive changes to enhance your life and see the benefits, you will begin to set as a priority more & longer healthy practices.) Meditation does many things, like bringing clarity and focus to your days, nurturing your creativity and promoting health and healing. I have started to meditate using the seven chakras. I take in and release several deep, cleansing breaths and start with the first chakra, the root chakra. The chakras ascend the body and are associated with the colors of the rainbow (Roy G. Biv, for those who know this little memory helper!). I take a few moments or minutes with each one, then I focus on areas of my body that are sore and channel healing thoughts and, finally, taking deep breaths from my roots and pulling them up & out through my crown.
"THINK POSITIVE and positive things will happen." Having an optimistic outlook and personality, as well as a positive attitude about aging, specifically, can add 5+ years to your life!! Constant negative thoughts and beliefs not only drag you down, they work internally to damage your cells. Changing those thoughts and beliefs changes your cells!!! Revitalizing you from the inside out! You ARE happier. You smile more. What you put out into the Universe comes back to you, multiplied! You have an aura of health and radiance! Others want to be around you! You inspire others to be like you!!
And, as a final practice, check out this TedX talk by John Marcotte where STRIKING A SUPERHERO POSE for just 2 minutes does the following: "Your power hormone testosterone rises by 8% and your stress hormone cortisol drops by 25%… YES 25%! And lastly, the research also showed that if you pose like a superhero for just 2 minutes you are more likely to take a risk." You don't have to be wearing a costume to enjoy the benefits, but it would bring a smile to the faces of many who witness your ability to have some fun, get a laugh and take a risk!!!
After 60-90 days of practice, an activity is hard-wired, thus becoming a habit which you will do automatically.
Can you tell whether
or not I attended college?What do you
think I would have studied?
Do you know that I
was a certified optician?
Do you know that I
lost my father when he was 49?
Do you see my
Can you see that I
had the tips of my cervix cauterized in 2001 for pre-cancerous cells?
Do you see a lesbian
because my hair is short?Or because I
am usually in the company of my spouse, Chris?
Do you see someone
spiritual?Can you tell my religion??
Do you know that I
have been with Chris for over two decades?
Can you tell my age?
Do you know how many
siblings I have?
If I have any children?
Am I a good-hearted
Can you see if I am a
Do you know if I have
any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friends?
I am 42 years
young.I do have a college degree, but attending college was not my first choice. I had dreamed of moving to California to study hair & makeup and work in movies! My major was Criminal Justice.I have been an optician, a probation
officer, an administrative assistant, a retail employee and an intelligence
analyst, among others.I grew up in a
home where there was often physical and verbal abuse.My father died of colorectal cancer at the young age of 49 and I
do my best everyday to be healthy and not fall prey to that most horrible of
diseases.I am Pagan, not Christian
(much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin and not for her lack of trying!)
… I am also a good-hearted person and trusted friend.I believe my actions are indicative of who I am authentically,
more than my words.I was a bit
promiscuous in high school (lookin' for love in all the wrong places, as it were!!), which most likely led to me getting HPV and then
precancerous cells on my cervix.I met
the cutest guy in 1989 and instantly fell in love.We have changed our hairstyles, our weight, our places of
residence quite a few times over the 25 years we have been together.We now share some dresses.I am not a lesbian, neither is Chris.(Figure it out…get educated…be informed.)I have many LGBT friends and I LOVE
them!We have attended 3 Pride parades
(Key West, Chicago and Denver) and simply cannot wait for Denver’s this
June!I love to watch drag shows and
roller derby!I live in Colorado, but I
don’t ski or snowboard or snowmobile.I
have 8 tattoos and counting!I have 3
younger siblings, who have been raised by our mother.While I do not have any children of my own, I have many nieces,
nephews and great-nephews whom I love dearly.
I could go on and on,
as many of you could!Unless you KNOW,
really and truly KNOW, a person, the things on the surface are not all they
seem.To discriminate based on what you
THINK you know about a person at first glance is intolerable … and shameful.
A couple week's ago, we went to Happy Hour at the Thirsty Lion. While perusing the menu, I saw an appetizer for Bacon Wrapped Dates. It had some kind of cheese along with almonds inside a date that was wrapped in bacon and baked. I thought about getting them...then, I thought, I could make these!!!
Since I try to stay away from dairy, I decided to make mine without the cheese.
My first attempt included some yummy nitrite & nitrate-free peppered bacon from Trader Joe's. I stuffed my pitted dates (this is important: buy the PITTED dates so you don't have to try to remove them yourself!) with raw almonds and wrapped it in a small square cut from a full slice of bacon that I secure with a toothpick. Baked at 400 degrees, maybe 15 minutes. Pretty darn good!
For my second version, I decided to soak the almonds to soften them. Even better!!! We also dipped them in Dijon and spicy brown mustards! I liked both mustards, Chris didn't particularly like either. He felt the savory of the mustards took too much away from the sweet of the dates.
For my third (yep...we are already at the 3rd!), I used a nitrite & nitrate-free bacon from King Soopers. This one is more like traditional bacon, with the marbling of fat, while the Trader Joe's was more the consistency of turkey bacon. This attempt got WAY crunchier. I like my bacon crunchy, Chris does not! So, while he liked the taste of this one, he felt it was too crispy!
Personally, I like the Trader Joe's bacon the best and, next time, I might just leave it in the oven a little longer to see if it can crisp up. We are going to make these as an appetizer for Easter when we host Matthew & Megan (and maybe Mark). Serving it with our own honey mustard made by mixing the Dijon and honey! (I will also put out the bottles of mustard, too, just in case anyone wants to give it a taste test!)
I recently learned of a cancer diagnosis of the husband of a friend, one of the trainers from Fit Chick Express.
This is a guy younger than me, who is active and eats well. He and his wife have spent most of their years together traveling internationally. In example, they spent this past New Year's Eve in Iceland! He recently held a "Travel Tips" chat that Chris and I attended, so we could learn and put into practice their tricks!
Today, I found out he has both lung & liver cancer and their progress is far along. I did a little internet research and find that both of these cancers operate rather silently, meaning that signs or symptoms are almost nil. With almost nothing to warn you along the way, once a diagnosis is made, the battle is an uphill one.
I believe in the power of our beliefs, thoughts, intentions to change our cellular biology! Our mind-body connection is so very powerful, if only we recognize and honor it!
I know that my friend will exhaust every natural (alternative) treatment in his tireless effort to prolong his life. And he has a large community of folks sending him positive energies!!
With the 13th anniversary of my dad's death, from colon cancer, only 4 days away, many thoughts & emotions are stirring within me. I am more determined than ever to keep my health & wellness a priority: to listen to my inner guidance, to have my blood work checked yearly (as a precaution and baseline), to use the necessary medical tests that check my colon for any issues and to continue to educate myself on my mind-body connection.
I am also going to make travel with Chris a priority!
Tomorrow is not guaranteed and I am determined to LIVE fully!
Hail, and welcome! Green life returns to the earth blooming and blossoming once more from the soil. We welcome you, goddesses
of spring, Eostre, Persephone,
Cybele, in the trees, in the soil, in the flowers, in the rains, and we are grateful for your presence.
Back at the beginning of February, while running in City Park one morning, I injured my hips. I don't know why or how, as I hadn't done anything different from any previous jogs. Maybe because it was a bit cool, my body just wasn't interested! However, I did exactly opposite of what I would have told anyone else...I kept pushing. The pain started almost immediately, but I thought I would work it out. I slowed my pace considerably, I alternated with walking and I also did walking lunges. I did my planned three laps around the lake.
I then paid for it, dearly! The rest of that day, it was so painful to walk. I felt decrepit! But I hid it from Chris, so that I didn't have to hear him tsk-tsk me about it. Walking was painful for many weeks thereafter, actually. I haven't been back out to run, as I continue to heal up. I can tell my hips are still holding on to something because if I sit too long, they ache when I get up to walk.
I have been meditating on them, as well as soreness in my shoulders, bringing my mind-body connection to the forefront of my healing process. I like to focus on each of my chakras and then concentrate on my areas that need extra special, healing, attention. I have also been more conscious of morning stretching, which I like to do just before or just after my quick meditation.
Since I don't want to lose my cardio, but I don't yet want to jog or run, I have been doing walking incline intervals on the treadmill at the gym. I keep the steady pace of 3.5 and set the incline at 6%. Every three minutes I increase the incline (also) by three, peaking at 15%. I then go back down the hill the same way, 3% decline every 3 minutes, to 6%. I stay at 6 incline a minute or two longer, then decrease both my speed and incline (.5) for a cool-down. I finish with stretching, off the treadmill.
I teach Cardio Kickboxing, but sometimes it just isn't enough of a challenge for me, so I need to find new ways to keep my fitness in check. Which means, I need to get back to the bag for a good 20-minute solo workout! That will also do the trick!!
Taking even more stock of my health is bringing me to a point where I believe I am going to have to try the Paleo style of eating. I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and I believe some rashes I have are directly connected to that and the foods I am eating. The rash isn't itchy or painful, just ugly. It's in my inner elbows and around my armpits. It's not new, but I decided to research it because applying cortisone cream doesn't do a thing.
In my research, I have come across many postings that gluten and leaky-gut are issues connected to Hashimoto's. I have also read that soy, corn, dairy and sugar are other culprits.
Dairy is a contributor to acne, which is why I chose to take it out of my diet years ago. We stopped drinking cow's milk (sure do miss my skim) and I have tried to avoid any food products. However, I will add half & half to my coffee when I am out. I also LOVE Greek yogurt, particularly Fage, and cheese, but I know to limit myself.
My previous post was about my monthly cookie addiction, so we all know that I eat sugar!
I will use soy milk in my coffee occasionally, but we moved from soy milk to almond milk a number of years ago, due to soy's negative interaction with hormones.
Corn, well, it's in almost everything these days!!! And who doesn't like a corn tortilla or tortilla chips, for that matter!?!
I will have to forgo my all-time favorite food, pizza! I know, I know, I can make it with gluten-free crust...and I guess no cheese (???). It just won't be the same. I would eat pizza everyday, if I let myself!
I will have to search for gluten-free craft beers. I know that ciders are gluten-free, but I love to try a porter or a stout!
When we are on vacation, I might have to be creative or just go with it. I'm not going to get all caught up in what I can or cannot eat, thereby getting hungry and grouchy and, thus, having a bad time. Not. Gonna. Happen.
And I know that I have been eating many of these food sources recently: beer, corn tortillas and chips at a Mexican restaurant, half & half, SUGAR(!) and another beloved, my steel-cut oats.
It's not going to be easy, that's for damn sure!
But I am SO lucky to have a husband who will roll with the punches and pretty much eat anything I prepare. We are healthy eaters, at least 80% of the time, but now we will be more diligent and dedicated. It will be a health boon for us both. And the clean eating is going to melt off the fat (just like when we did "Body for Life" for 6 weeks back in 2001!)!!
As many of you know, I like to work out and I am a Group Fitness Instructor, so often times I get paid to exercise. I also try to eat healthy and drink plenty of H2O. I like to practice an 80/20 eating style: 80% of the time I am eating & drinking well, while 20% of the time I indulge.
Except when it comes to one particular week a month (with me ladies??).
I then become The Cookie Monster!!
I kid you not!
And I think this past week Chris must have been getting some really strong vibes because he kept bringing cookies home! Individually wrapped chocolate chip ones. Another day, ginger, oatmeal raisin and more chocolate chip ones, which I put in freezer bags. I also made some oatmeal craisin that included flax seed and protein powder.
Well, guess who couldn't keep her hands off almost every cookie?!? Yep, including the ones in the freezer! It's ridiculous, right? I mean, I know how unhealthy they are for me, but I keep going back for more.
While I know you cannot exercise away bad eating habits, I worked out a little more last week than my usual weeks. Sheesh! And with us heading to the beaches of Puerto Rico in less than 5 weeks, I need to be ever more mindful about what I am putting in my mouth. Alcohol, too. And more focused on moving my body every single day!
I will have one more of "these" weeks before we go, so I hope that I catch myself and make sure that I only have the healthiest of options on hand!
I am so glad I don't know anyone close with daughters selling Girl Scout Cookies b/c those would all be in my belly, too. (Samoas and Thin Mints, particularly.....but please, oh, please, don't send me a box! Until my birthday, that is! HeeHee!!)
We wanted to stay at three different places while visiting Puerto Rico. On or near the west side, on the island of Vieques off the east side and Old San Juan. I quickly got responses from Vieques and Old San Juan for the places we liked. I sent a message to one near Isabela several days ago and received nothing in response! I then went to another rental site and quickly found a house to rent and sent a quote request. I received an email asking me to call the owner. I called the owner, who asked me then to text him the info (which was already in the email to which he responded, mind you!). He said he was in the car and would call me upon landing at his office. I sent the text. Hear the crickets chirping?? I also sent an email reply to the one he sent to me......still no response.
I was feeling a bit uneasy about all of the driving and nervous about making it from one side of the island to the other to arrive early enough to do all we need to do to catch the ferry to Vieques. I believe the uneasy feeling I was getting was inner guidance about not being so busy and all over the place this particular trip.
So, we are now going directly to Vieques and staying 5 nites, where we will be within walking distance of the beach, where our "hosts" live on the property, have been very accommodating about discounts and payment and will be available for island advice, where we can relax and live in bathing suits and tank tops for 5 days straight and we won't have to pack up after 3 nites!!
We will then head back to the mainland for 2 nites in Old San Juan to experience the city and its amazing Spanish and Caribbean architecture.
Should we make a return trip, perhaps a long stay on the west side, the beaches of Rincon, will be the plan. There are ruins, sort of in the middle of the mainland, and several rain forests/jungles that we will make part of our second visit, too. Therefore, it makes much more sense to enjoy that whole side for one trip and off the east for this one! If we were going to be there for two weeks, then I would do each side about 5 days, still finishing in Old San Juan.
AND....since we are staying on Vieques and they no longer offer a ferry between the two islands (a mere 8 miles apart!), we might just catch a day flight to Culebra and experience the famous Flamenco Beach! When on the islands, one simply must island hop, right? ;)
Another plus that I just learned from my friend, Mario, the island of Vieques is very LGBT-friendly (he is a gay man who loves to travel and saw a travel show on Vieques and has been wanting to visit with his adorable hubby, Billy, ever since)!
I am feeling much better about the whole trip and, really, vacationing shouldn't make one anxious.
So, best laid plans and all ... the Universe was looking out for us by having communication failures with those other two rentals ... and that is that!