Mind Control

DESIDERATA

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

(By Max Ehrmann © 1927)

collage by D.O’Klock

It is challenging not to feel the pressure  of everything that is going on these days, and last week was a toughie for everyone I spoke to. And that was before the death of one of my heroines, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I don’t need to tell you about her, there’s plenty written already. I am excited to learn more: I just ordered a book from Amazon, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg: A Life.”

It is a constant challenge to control my thoughts…  and I realize that they are the only thing I can control. Always and only, my thoughts and my actions.

We spoke about this in therapy group last week; letting go of things we cannot control. And for me, that includes being fearful, which robs me of the beauty, joy, and loving kindness still available in the world and in mankind. So, to counter feeling like I have no control, I do what I can: I tell people I love them. I write a check to the Food Bank. And I donate to PBS which has been a lifesaver for me during this time, and was a joy when I was raising my son.

And I read the Desiderata. I hope that it brings you some peace, too.

Much love, dear friends.
XO Donna

 


Run, Rabbit, Run

 

One of the sweetest things about our getaway last week was seeing the bunnies scurrying everywhere  in New Mexico. They’re way too fast to get a photo of them – all you see is their little bunny-butts and fluffy tails!

Sick of being cooped up, sick of all of my doctor appointments, and sick of this blasted 100+ degree heat – we decided to take a road trip, and went to visit friends who live in Madrid, NM, (above) an arts community just outside of Santa Fe.
It’s been almost two years since we last saw them. We knew we could safely visit them and catch up, so we loaded our SUV, left early in the morning, and arrived at their doorstep just in time for Happy Hour!

Our plan was to spend a couple of nights at their oasis in the desert hills – then three nights at a newly built AirBnB close to downtown, which had the added benefit of a little café downstairs!

The next morning the guys left early on motorcycles to ride to Taos, and Denise and I decided to walk around town, then go into Santa Fe for lunch. Shockingly,  it was almost as hot here as in Texas!  Madrid had more visitors than I’d expected; people from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, especially motorcyclists, were looking for someplace to go for a drive.

New Mexicans are strictly adhering to a “masks everywhere policy,” and nobody was rebelling or complaining, people kept a respectful distance from each other, and everyone seemed happy and patient, which was refreshing. Most shops were open and lots of people strolled from place to place visiting.

It was a different story when we went to Canyon Road in Santa Fe later. The restaurants were all closed, except for the very few that have outdoor dining. We’d planned lunch at The Teahouse, a “quaint haunt with an eclectic menu,” but it was closed that afternoon. We headed instead to The Compound, a restaurant whose chef/owner won the James Beard Foundation award. Saying that our lunch, eaten in the patio below, was fantastic is a complete understatement!

After lunch we peeked in a few windows and discovered some stunning heads made out of fired clay bricks. There were very few tourists anywhere on Canyon Road, (which is the Yellow Brick Road of galleries). It is the first time I have ever seen it so quiet, or felt the heat here be so oppressive.

 

The next day Denise worked, so we wandered over to look at the work of sculptor and painter Jill Schwaiko. Link (here)
I find her work to be vividly spiritual. In the courtyard behind the gallery I found this beautiful old door.

It was time to head into town to check-in to our AirBnB rooms. Our suite was in a small complex built in an up-and-coming area, upstairs above lovely gardens and a restaurant. We planned to relax, stroll the Plaza, and go to the O’Keeffe Museum, but so much was closed.  A bit disquieting, in and of itself, but there was also a large fire burning up on the mountain, which was making it very smoky and very hard to breathe. We walked to breakfast twice, very early while it was still cool, bunnies scurrying into the brush as we approached. We stayed in our rooms each afternoon out of the heat and smoke. Evenings we’d spend on our porch or down in the café gardens. I could live in this place!

“It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.”  In spite of it all, we made the best of it.

We finally saw the “miraculous staircase” at the Loretto Chapel. This is only the second church I’ve been inside of in fifteen years (the other being the Notre Dame in Paris) and Loretto’s beauty didn’t disappoint. Built in 1873, it was modeled after the Saint Chappelle in Paris. The wooden staircase has two complete 360 degree turns with no supporting center pole! How the staircase was built, and by who, remains a mystery. There was no wait to get in, we got a Senior discount (LOL) and we were fortunate to be two of only eight masked guests there!

The night before leaving we drove into Madrid to say goodbye-for-now to our dear friends, and visited over appetizers and cocktails. It never feels long enough when we go to visit them, but it’s always great and I look forward to returning again very soon!

XO Donna

 

 


Summertime Blues

The best laid plans… I said I’d be writing more regularly last time, but the week after my post I was in the hospital again with stroke symptoms, arrhythmia, and shortness of breath.  Sigh, just when I thought I was out of the woods.

I spent a few days there, having every conceivable test known to modern mankind, including checking for Covid-19, which may have been the worst one!  I’ve been neurotically careful;  mask and physical distancing when I must go out, so, of course it was negative.

The results: they think I’ve been having TIAs, perhaps because my blood pressure isn’t controlled enough by the meds I’m on. Perhaps because of one of my meds. Perhaps because some things are just unknowable. Bottom line: they don’t know what’s going on, so I was told to get off my hormone replacement therapy. Without the hormones I’m afraid I will feel like… well, Dorian Gray’s portrait hidden up in the attic.

 I’ve always joked that you’d have to pry my hormone supplements out of my cold, dead hand… but sometimes it’s wise to stop and think, “Is this really the hill I want to die on?”

Speaking of old, I had the funniest conversation with my youngest sister, Elizabeth. I have a lovely silk spaghetti-strap top I bought last year and never wore. Now, I can’t see myself ever wearing it. I knew it would look great on her, so I sent a pic and asked if she liked it, telling her I’d feel like mutton dressed as lamb in it. Her response:

I’m sure most of this is in my head, because so far, I don’t feel bad at all except that I’m not sleeping. To counter this I’m maximizing foods that feed my brain and help handle depression, anxiety, insomnia and treat menopausal symptoms.

Like what? A Mediterranean-style diet, primarily of fruits, veggies, extra-virgin olive oil, real yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, Omega-rich seafood, whole grains, small portions of red meat, lean chicken and pork. The variety in this real-food diet provides our brain the nutrition it needs, regulates our inflammatory response, and supports the good bacteria in our gut.

Very often, what’s eating us… may be what we are, or aren’t,  eating!

Speaking of good eats, our dear neighbor, Rich, loves to cook and brought me over a container of fresh Gazpacho. (I used to make Ina Garten’s recipe, but haven’t in years since my sweetie won’t eat cold soups.)  It was absolutely delicious, and motivated me to make Anthony Bourdain’s Vichysoise to share, since I now had a fellow cold-soup enthusiast.

As a “thank you”, he gifted me one of Bourdain’s cookbooks given to him by a coworker he dislikes so much that just seeing the book on his shelf aggravated him. I’m still laughing over my good fortune!

I don’t know about the weather where you live, but it’s been hot as Hades here in Texas, so last night I made a batch of my creamy, cool zucchini soup.  It’s easy as all get-out, delicious,  and perfect for these inferno-like temps. I have been making this chilled soup every summer for at least 25 years. Try it, I know you’ll love it too.

Recipe:  Three (3) medium-sized zucchini, sliced, and one (1) medium white or yellow onion, diced. Put in a sauce pan with three (3) cups of natural chicken broth and simmer about 10-15 minutes till nice and tender. Let cool 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt to the pan and stir. (I use whole milk yogurt for the richness, but use what you have). In two batches, whir in blender till smooth and creamy. Pour into large container and chill. Garnish with chives, parsley, a bit of fresh dill, spinach leaves, or some fresh black pepper. Bon apetit!

XO Donna

 


Living Well 2.0

Make Your Bed – my guest room

Howdy, y’all – is everyone hanging in there?  Looking back on recent posts,  I realized that I’ve only posted once a month lately. That’s such a difference from my old bi-monthly “bursting with new things to share.”
New make-up, skin care, or beat-the-heat beauty tips… I don’t have any to offer, and who really cares about that? Styling your outfits… heck, I’m not really going anywhere that requires outfits, are you?

Don’t get me wrong,  I haven’t given up on myself… I’m not walking around looking like “the the Wreck of the Hesperus” nor living the grunge life!  While it may take more energy than I have some days, I do shower, blow my hair dry (even gave myself a haircut this morning!) and put on eyebrows. Self-care is important… maybe more than you realize. Taking good care of myself helps keep me in the moment, in my body, and feeling valued.

These are the same reasons I make nectar and fill the hummingbird feeder, clean and refill the birdbath, and stand out in this heat to water my garden. Yes, it helps all of the birds, bees, and butterflies, and by helping them, I help myself stay grounded. Sane. Connected.

I’m sure that by now you, too, are beginning to realize that things aren’t  “going back to normal.”

There are a lot of changes afoot, and many of them a long time coming. So, how best to deal?
By realizing that Change is the only constant there is. And by realizing  that willingness to change, adaptability, is the key to living well.

Adapting helped me learn to live well with multiple chronic illnesses years ago, and to recover again after the strokes last year. When the pandemic began, I remember feeling bit smug, and “uniquely suited” to handle this new experience. Ninety percent of the time I can. I learned to manage my feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and patience while recovering from the stroke. I became familiar with new technology; using Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Duo to “see” my friends and family, have online doctor visits, and even do my group therapy online!

But, every once in a while I feel freaked out, sick, and off kilter – like everyone else. How can I make myself feel better?
I know I did it before… how can I do it now? To that end, I pulled out my book and re-read it to see how to apply what I’d written to these circumstances. Living Well 2.0 in the Time of Corona. Each chapter reminded me of ways to feel more present and less worried. This read-through, my favorite chapter is “There’s No Rut in Routine.”

Rumi said, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

My days begin by making my bed. First thing every day.  I was surprised by how many friends poo-pooed it, but it felt important enough to me to include in my book and give it a chapter of its own. I felt validated in my bed-making habit when I heard Naval Admiral Wm. H. McRaven’s commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class at University of Texas, Austin.

A Navy SEAL for 36 years, McCraven offered this simple lesson and its importance to him: “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.  It will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. And, if by chance you are having a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made, and it gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

I find that outer order gives me inner calm… and it is one of the few things I can control. If you don’t already, try making your bed daily for a week and see if it makes you feel better. If you do, pick another small task you’ve been avoiding, and give it your attention, then please let me know how it went in the comments. I love hearing from you all.

XO Donna

 

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

 

 

 

 


Little Miss Sunshine

Apropos of nothing, I awoke this morning humming the old tune, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” and thinking, “but first, I’d like to teach them to spell.”

This was probably because of a package of pencils with common grammar issues imprinted upon them! I’ve always jokingly (and perhaps tastelessly) included myself among the Grammar Nazis; those sticklers for knowing and using proper grammar and spelling.

Wrong use of words like “could of” rather than “could have,” and using “your,” when you mean to say “you’re,” (you are) in a sentence are like fingernails on a blackboard to me. You, too?

Good Grammar

Speaking of, a darling friend in California who is also a stickler for good grammar  sent me a pack of grammar police pencils as a gift, so I’m sure that accounts for part of my waking thoughts…  but how that 1971 Coca Cola commercial worked its way into my consciousness, I’ll never know.

The world could definitely do with a bit of love and kindness right about now… maybe “sharing a Coke and a smile” would go a long way toward that?

Just as I sat down to finish this post, an old friend called to see how I was faring in these terrible, terrible times. Her words, not mine.  “There’s nothing but bad news everywhere I look!” she said. After listening to her “awfulize” for a few more moments, and not wanting to lose my sunny buzz, I interrupted her (even though it was rude to do so) and told her that of course there was good news,  I subscribe to a weekly newsletter full of good news from around the world. It took her a second to regroup. “Really?” she asked, incredulous.

I know that it can be very compelling to focus on everything that’s wrong and negative, but I also know that inspiration, motivation, and hopefulness can be found when we look for them. I was glad she called so that I could redirect her, remind myself, and share this with you.

Many of you know who David Byrnes is – the British-American singer, songwriter, and musician of Talking Heads fame. He is the founder of an aptly-named newsletter that thrills me every time it shows up in my inbox:  Reasons to Be Cheerful. They call their project “tonic for tumultuous times,” and I’d have to agree. Here’s the link: http://reasonstobecheerful.world
I hope you will take a look and that you find it as uplifting as I do.

I’ve also been keeping my spirits up by exercising, and in the process I get to see my BFF regularly since Holly teaches Nia, a movement class “for every body.”
With the advent of the novel corona virus, her classes have now become available live on Facebook and are reaching everyone worldwide! I credit regular exercise for helping me recover from my stroke and it’s side-effects. Feeling ill last week, and consequently not exercising for 8 days, I’ve noticed some of the numbness and tingling have returned… so I’m back on track this week!

Nia classes with Holly

Exercise is proven to release “good chemicals” in our brain, lubricate our joints, boost our circulation, and increase our range of motion, and stamina… which ultimately lifts our spirits.

Holly’s online presence is just as wonderful as her live persona… she has a way of making her love of movement enjoyable and accessible to all.  So many of the complaints people attribute to aging and illness are really just the result of a sedentary lifestyle. Since I’m no longer young, and I live with chronic health issues, I can’t begin to imagine how “old” I’d feel if I didn’t push the furniture aside and exercise regularly!

 

 

 

 

 

Plato said, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Cheers to kindness, a bit of exercise, and preserving a sunny attitude.
XO Donna

 


Learning Curve

Trying new things can be either an exciting and rewarding learning experience, or fraught with anxiety if, like me, you hate to get it wrong.

I was raised by a “failure is not an option,” father. No learning curve allowed. I was expected to do everything right, right off the bat. Many parents, and some grandparents, mistakenly think that this attitude presses kids to do their best. But, pressure stifles a sense of wonder and experimentation, and diminishes the self-confidence necessary to try something repeatedly until you succeed. Often  these feelings carry forward into adulthood.

These days I’m adhering to a new school of thought, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”

Fifty years later, after some therapy, and online access about how to do anything, PLUS a global pandemic… heck,  “Time is on My Side.”  I not buying into  “can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”  That’s just an excuse, not a fact.  I have been trying lots of new things, straying from the comfort zone of the things I know how to do well, and having quite a few interesting outcomes!

Heavenly Blue morning glories.

First, I planted morning glories, and they took forever to sprout. Like a good Jewish Mother, I checked on them daily encouraging them to grow babies, grow. Only three out of the six seedlings made it, but they are strong and happy.  I also planted a Shishito Pepper and some Thyme and Oregano in a big pot in the sun. I talk to them too, and they are all thriving! We ate my first handful of peppers sautéed with shrimp for dinner  the other night.

Oregano, Thyme, Shishitos

Then, I had an applesauce cake FAIL.  A familiar recipe, except that this time I used French flour that I ordered from Amazon. I’d  heard that people who react badly to American wheat are able to tolerate this better.  What I didn’t know is that without adjustments, it would come out so dense.  How dense was it, Donna?  It was as dense as an apple-scented fire log.

In it’s favor, it was beautiful.

After lots of research on why this happened, I learned that this type of flour (t45) is usually reserved for pastry and cookies.  It’s lower gluten creates much less sponginess, and the fineness of the flour  soaks up much more liquid than I could have imagined. The Gremlins won that round as I threw it in the trash.

Still a little bummed-out, I decided to try a new recipe for cornbread, since I’ve  been making the same cornbread for 40 years. Although the recipe is from a cookbook I’ve enjoyed many things from, their cornbread was a disgusting failure. No idea why… absolutely none at all. Into the trash it went, too.  Another win for the Gremlins.

Reluctant to waste any more hard-to-come-by ingredients,  and trying to bolster my sagging ego, I pulled out a tattered Ina Garten corn muffin recipe that I’d scribbled on an envelope and carried around for years, but never baked. They were unequivocally the  most delicious corn muffins I have ever eaten! They were perfect with a pot of chili for dinner,  and still perfect when split, buttered,  and toasted the next morning with my coffee.

Of course they’re delicious, they’re by Ina Garten!

Ina is one of two or three people on my “People I’d Love to Meet” list. When I was very ill years ago and couldn’t eat, could barely get off the couch, she was the bright spot in my day as I’d watch her cooking for her darling husband and friends. I would reminisce about my 25 years living on Long Island, too, and even driving around the beautiful town where she lives. I fantasized about being  invited to her house to chat with her as she cooked, and afterward, eating a beautifully prepared meal with her .

(If any of you have connections to Ina, and can arrange it, I’m game!)

So, without any further ado, here is the recipe that gave me so much delight this week:

Ina’s Corn Muffins

Mix 3C flour, 1 C sugar, 1 C cornmeal, 2TBSP baking powder, 1.5 tsp. salt in large bowl.
Whisk 2 sticks butter, melted and cooled, 2 XL eggs, and 1.5 C milk together. Add wet to dry. Don’t overmix the batter, quick and easy does it.
Scoop into 12 lined muffin cups, bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins. Halves easily for 6 muffins.


What’s New?

I almost added “Pussycat!”  I’m dating myself, I know, but… it’s good to be silly.

Passover has come and gone, and all I made this year was a bowl of haroset: minced apples, walnuts, raisins, dates, a few drops of wine, honey and cinnamon. I can’t even remember what else I cooked for dinner, but I know that I enjoyed the fruit even more the next morning, on my Greek yogurt!

And Easter has come and gone without a Peep. Or any dyed eggs, or even a chocolate bunny.

The days have mostly lost their definition, blurring into each other (except for Tuesday, therapy day, the anchor for my week). One way I’ve been filling them is with baking bread for the guys and grain-free treats for myself. Then my oven died. It not only interrupted my baking for a whole week, but my dinners as well. Fortunately it is fixed now and heats faster and more evenly than ever. To celebrate my “newish” oven, I made bread from James Beard’s cookbook – which I somehow never returned to the library when I moved to Texas in 1978. (Yes, I feel a little guilty every time I use it.)

My sweetie and I have been walking together pretty much everyday, and since everyone else here is too, there’s a lot of effort expended to maintain physical-distancing on our sidewalks. It’s become so crowded, this morning we decided to drive to one of the neighborhood wilderness trails. With almost nobody there, we got to enjoy the birds, the fields of flowers and butterflies, stately old pecan and oak trees, and mowed niches with benches beside a flowing creek. It felt as though we had wandered into Paradise.

Have you had an online doctor’s appointment yet? I just had my first “conference” with my cardiologist this morning. It was very nice to see her smiling face, and between my blood-pressure cuff and my Apple Watch, I had all the info she needed. I don’t need to see her for six more months. Hopefully the world will be closer to normal by then… whatever normal is.
I really enjoyed not having to drive an hour to see her. I could get used to this!

I’ve also been making a lot of art, and for the first time in my life I feel no need for it to be perfect… I’m enjoying it just for the sake of creating.

If you like coloring, like I do, some art museums and art institutes are now making their collections available as coloring books for you andyour kids, or grands, to play together and learn. Visit ColorOurCollections.org.  And for tours of museums around the world: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

Yours in Health,
Donna


Semi-Brave New World

Everything is completely different than it was two weeks ago… who could ever have imagined?

And yet today dawned sunny and warm, the birds alternate between singing and giving us dirty looks from their cruddy, almost dry birdbath. Thank heavens this isn’t a Hitchcock movie…

I’m anxiously finding my way through these turbulent times, how about you?

Everything here in our “senior community” has been completely shut down (I’m talking Ghost Town) for two weeks. But I’ve found yoga online. And my BFF is doing her NIA classes live beginning today. Something fun to add to my daily walks. Have you found any online exercise you like?

The Coffee Break Creativity group that had just begun meeting has moved to working together online, also. By sharing artistic goals we want to achieve, and before & after photos, we are all still connected.

Even my group therapy session happened online yesterday. Seeing everyone’s dear faces onscreen reminded me of Hollywood Squares. Remember that old show?  It was so zany and risqué for it’s time!

 

Afterwards, my sweetie and I had an appointment with a lawyer. Their office followed the most stringent cleansing and social distancing standards imaginable – we could have done surgery in there!  But, I still signed all my papers with my own pen. After talking about this for years, our wills and our medical directives are now finished.

Do you have a will and medical directives? Does your family know your wishes?  People avoid talking about this, but it is actually a generous gift to your family.

At the most difficult time ever, they will know how to carry out your wishes, and it will give them a sense of direction and purpose when needed the most. Just try to make sure your wishes are reasonable…

Obviously, we couldn’t give my sister the “Viking funeral” she wanted: A flaming boat set adrift in the river behind her home floating toward Lake Michigan would probably have violated every city, county, and state ordinance on the books. And I’d probably be writing this to you from jail.

 

After the lawyer’s office,  we braved the grocery store. It’d been more than eight days since our last trip and neither of us really wanted to go. I was anxious, to say the least. We both felt a little safer when we saw that they had their social distancing down to a science!

Unfortunately, the shelves were almost bare, and the weirdest stuff was unavailable – not a can of baking powder or box of baking soda to be found. Nary a packet of yeast. I’m very adaptable, and a resourceful cook, but for some reason the sight of an absolutely empty baking aisle pushed me over the edge – I fought back my tears and hurried along.

Today I must catch up on my English Grammar class (I’ve fallen behind) and bake a couple of loaves of sandwich bread.

I am counting my blessings: my family and tribe are all well right now, I get to see them online. I’m making a donation to the local Food Bank. And I’m sending out blessings for those on the front lines: all of the  medical personnel, and technicians and researchers, and public servants braving this virus, all of the workers who can’t work. And to you, friends, may you all be healthy and well.

XO Donna

 


Gotta Have Friends

 

 

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, and finally found the perfect opening in this (adjusted) quote by John Donne:

“No woman is an island, entire of itself; every woman is a piece of the entire continent, a part of the main.”

After having a stroke last year, my continuing heart problems coupled with the physical and emotional numbness I felt made me withdraw. I’ve always bounced back from problems before, but this time felt more like a “SPLAT!”

I tried to stay active on social media because it felt like connection, but I found myself feeling isolated and depressed. I’ve never felt either way before, so I kept hoping it was a temporary situation and that it would pass.

Although I’ve seen people share EVERYTHING on social media, I wasn’t one of them, and I was too embarrassed to admit to anyone how I was feeling…  unwilling to give voice to it.
After months of feeling this way, I finally called my dear therapist, whom I haven’t worked with in years, and began group-therapy again.

(Side-note: I have two fantastic female therapists, a cozy uplifting space that feels like “home,” and five wonderful people who are my understanding mirrors. I highly recommend group over ‘one-on-one.’)

I was in a doctor’s office last week when I came across an article in GH entitled “Friends With Benefits.”  Catchy title, but not what I thought at first (I know, I should get my mind out of the gutter).  It’s about all of the ways that friendships boost our health and well-being:

  • Friends lower our stress, because when we are with them our levels of progesterone increase, decreasing our stress and anxiety.
  • Women between 50-79 who had more support from their friendships lived longer.
  • Women with breast cancer who have strong social networks also have better odds of survival.
  • People over age 80 who have more positive social relationships also had the memory function of middle-agers.

According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “The depth and breadth of your social connections will impact your health just as much as diet and exercise.”  Did you know that older adults are more at risk for developing hypertension from social isolation, than from diabetes?

The take-away: our friendships are just as important as taking good care of ourselves.

Social relationships can buffer some of the effects of stress and help us cope, especially in mid-life when there are a lots of demands in our life: children, aging parents, work, divorce, illness, death. It’s noted that having a large social network was even more important than having high-quality relationships during older age.

By sharing my authentic-self, and trusting my group/therapy, I’m finding the inner-strength to venture out again. I’ve committed to a weekly yoga class. I also accepted a weekly invitation to join a group of creative women and make time to work on my art and words. And I’m bringing grain-free brownies to a get-together with women on my block on Friday.

The importance of feminine friendship and community is at the heart of the book I just finished, Willa’s Grove by Laura Munson. It’s a little more chick-lit than I normally read, but it was just the right medicine for right now.

So, remember to wash your hands thoroughly… and get together with your friends frequently.  To your health!

XO Donna

 

 


Up to Speed

What do you do when you procrastinate?  

I have a friend who works on spreadsheets. My youngest sister cleans. Me, I bake. I have a batch of almond-flour chocolate-chip cookies in the oven as I write. 

So much has happened, I hardly know where to begin. My posts have been sporadic, but I feel up-to-speed now, and I have a new computer to boot. 

I hope it’s true that learning new things is good for our brains, because I am transitioning from PC to Mac… and it’s a little like learning a new language. On the plus-side, my sweetie is pretty fluent in Mac. And I think my iPhone and iPad experiences have helped me. 

Just like all of my years of baking have made the transition to wheat-free recipes easier for me. I mean, look at these gorgeous cookies!

 

I made the PC-to-Mac transition because I was ready to get back to work on the book I began writing before my strokes. However, my computer lacked both the drive and the memory for the necessary updates. I can sympathize.  Encouraged by friends to make the switch, I stalled – afraid of something new and different, of failure…

 But, after weeks and weeks of mulling it over, when I found what I wanted for 25% less than in the Apple store… I was finally inspired to dive in. 

My exquisitely packaged MacBook sat on my desk for more than a week before I was brave enough to even open it. Gosh, I’m really embarrassed to admit that. 

But, here I am, writing you today on my Mac. And wait, there’s more! I also signed-up for an English grammar class taught online through MIT!
I’m excited, and nervous: I think it will be a fun way to get more comfortable with my computer, yet nervous because I chose to be graded, knowing it would make me more diligent. I’ll keep reminding myself of how much I love adventure.

Speaking of which, we sold our motor-home last month. We both have mixed feelings since it was such a wonderful part of our lives. We had a blast, and we have lots and lots of photos to remind us of our wonderful trips. The best part of all is that the people who bought it are the nicest couple ever! We are so happy for them.

A week later, we traded-in our faithful pick-up truck that was now too road-weary, and needed repairs. This seems to be a recurring theme today. LOL!  After joking about Corvettes and Mustangs, we now drive a mid-sized SUV that’s got all of the modern technology anyone could want. Maybe more than anyone wants, truth be told.

It’s sleek, has a couple of nifty features that I find incredibly helpful, it’s gas-efficient, and has a net for my yoga mat and blanket. What more could you want from a vehicle?

All-in-all, things are feeling steadier these days, a perfect environment to flourish in. And who knows what adventure is awaiting us just around the corner, right?

XO Donna