Wednesday, December 31, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 24

Home: Tell us about what home meant to you this year.  Are you a homebody?  Did you do a renovation?  Move?  Redecorate? 

Home is wherever my honey and my kitties are. 

We proved that for some six weeks of traveling in our little trailer (in two trips) this summer. It's small and compact, but it has our things, our pillows, our kitties in it, and when the four of us are tucked up in bed at night, it just doesn't get much better. 

Honestly, we could be anywhere as long as we're together, and it would feel like home. Safe. Comfortable. Secure. Relaxed. 

We do love our house-home, however. We designed it exactly how we wanted it to be, colors and layout and style, and it still works today, nearly 12 years later. As much as we love traveling in the trailer, it feels really good to be back home (even with hot temperatures in the summer). It's familiar. It's ours. 



#Reverb14, Day 22-23

Day 22: Thank You Note: Write a thank-you note to someone who broke your heart, or made your life harder than it needed to be. Bonus points for sharing it here.

Day 23: I never thought I’d…: What did you think you’d NEVER do.  But you did this year.  Why?  What changed your mind?

I'm hard-pressed to think of someone this year who fits the Dec. 22 prompt criteria. While there certainly have been those who made my life harder than it needed to be, that wasn't without my permission, if not expressly, by default. And breaking my heart? Oh. That has happened so many times with one child or another, but that's over time, not just this year. In fact, this year probably had less of that than there has been in many years, for which I am so truly thankful --- and aware that it could change at any moment. 

When we love someone, we offer our hearts up to be broken if we truly love them. We trust that all kindest care will be taken by the other party, of course, but that trust has sometimes been broken in my experience. And it is devastating. But you learn. Or you don't. I don't trust nearly as readily as I once did, and I am far slower to offer trust, at least fully, than I once was. But I still believe that someone to whom I give my love and trust will give theirs back to me -- and even though that has sometimes proven false, I still try. 

Sometimes when things are harder than they need to be, there are lessons to be learned -- that nasty old patience one, for instance. And sometimes life is just hard. You put one foot in front of the other and walk one baby step at a time. Eventually things will lighten up.

2. Last year -- any year, for that matter -- at this time I would never have imagined that I'd have an ablation on my heart, allowing doctors to thread a catheter up my femoral artery, poke a hole in my heart, and burn tiny little patches throughout it. I barely knew what it was.  

But I did it. I'd do it again. 

Because of it, I am (so far) free from atrial fibrillation, that awful, nauseating, anxiety-producing flip-flop-hard-beats-that-aren't-regular in your chest.  I no longer have to take blood thinners or do monthly blood tests. I no longer bruise at the slightest bump. I am not worried about a stroke every time my heart acts up. 

I am lucky that I was a good candidate for the procedure: not everyone is. I am lucky that there is not significant damage to my heart because of afib. 

We do what we have to do. I had to do this in order to have a better quality of life. And in 2015, I'll continue that quest by regaining strength and losing weight.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 21

1. This is the last day for Kat McNally's Reverb prompts. She writes, "Today, I'd like you to revisit what you wrote on 1 December on the first day of Reverb14.

How does that compare to where you are now i.e. what can you say today with certainty?

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following sentences:

In 2015, I am open to...
In 2015, I want to feel...
In 2015, I will say no to...
In 2015, I will know I am on the right track when… But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly…
In December 2015, I want to look back and say..

2. Purging: What did you get rid of this year?  Physical things you tossed out or donated?  Or did you purge a bad relationship, job, etc…?

1. I can still say exactly the same things today that I did on Dec. 1: I am reasonably able-bodied, I love and cherish and adore my husband, I like my life and who I am, and I am happy to be alive.

I can add that life is short and can end in a heartbeat (as it did for my daughter's father-in-law on Dec. 29, unexpectedly and sadly), and that we must try to make the most of every single day.


In 2015, I am open to...committing to a regular exercise plan, calendaring it so that it will remind me daily. 

In 2015, I want to feel...healthier, and stronger, and that I can walk without lurching because of foot or back pain.

In 2015, I will say no to...causes and people and events that do not ignite my passion or who are not willing to be truthful or when I believe that getting involved does not serve my highest and best interests. 

In 2013, I will know I am on the right track when....I am not second-guessing myself in the wee small hours of the morning, and when I am feeling stronger and more flexible. But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly....'fess up to my exercise and life partner, my husband, and get back on the path. 

In December 2015, I want to look back and say....I feel so good about this year! I am stronger and feel better and am happier than ever.

2. Oh, I purge fairly frequently, although there are many piles and nooks with stuff that needs going through and making decisions about. I am good about purging clothes and shoes that no longer work for me or fit me or that I really love wearing. (Not so good about purging piles of paper, however.) I went through some bookshelves and donated some to the library and some to my daughter this year. Did the same for household knickknacks and linens; gave still-good ones to one or the other of the daughters, threw away the rest, and we took several loads to thrift stores. 

In 2015, we are already planning to tackle the home office and old files. Time for all that saved paper to go or to be filed and stored. And there are supplies that we no longer use: donate or discard. Ditto with business books.

And then there is the attic. Uh huh.

I actively try to stay away from people or groups or events that make me uneasy or irritated, and intend to do more of that in 2015. This year I cut ties with one group, rather sadly because I so strongly support the cause and message. But the method for getting that message to the public has become stagnant and clique-y, and it no longer is a joy and calling to participate in it. I felt like a load had been lifted from me as soon as I told the organizers why I would not be participating again.

Negative people, negative experiences, negative situations have no place in my life anymore. I want to surround myself with kindness, with genuine caring, and with opportunities to learn and grow in good directions.

Monday, December 29, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 20

1. One thing I learned in 2014 was how to make space for joy and levity, even in the midst of challenging circumstances or sad times. 

How could you make space for joy in the year to come? How could you protect it?

2. Stuff and Things:  What products have you discovered this year that you love?  Tell us all about them, and why you love them.  Become the celebrity spokesperson of whatever it is you like!

 1. Feeling joy is intentional action. We become so entrenched in our daily routines that we don't necessarily seek more joy, although I believe we both feel a great deal of gratitude every day, multiple times daily. But joy requires some planning, some space set aside specifically for play and pleasure.

We have off and on made time weekly for a play day -- going for a drive or to the mountains or to a movie or something like that, but in 2015, I'd like to make that a priorty day: a weekly day where we leave behind our routines and ordinary pleasures and chores, and intentionally go do something different and fun. That means it goes on the calendar every week, and we make it happen.

Life is short. If not now, when?

2. I like this prompt, but it is going to have to wait. I am behind on posting these prompts, for one, and for another, our daughter's father-in-law died this morning (Dec. 29), and we are reeling from that. So I promise to revisit it at a later time when I can give it the attention it deserves.

Friday, December 26, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 19

1. Today, I invite you to consider: what sorts of signs and symbols have recurred for you in 2014? Think: repeating colours, shapes, people, sayings, music, images, ideas. Where could they possibly be leading you?

2. Challenges.  What did you wrestle with in 2014?  What did you learn?  What challenges do you foresee in 2015?

1. Spirals have caught my eye all year. They are an ancient symbol with various meanings in art and in spirituality, but also play an important role in science, math, and nature.  I've noticed them everywhere. The spiral is integrated into reiki symbolism and also in spirituality

This year has been one of more attention to spirituality for me, especially in learning with my reiki group and doing all the wonderful travel that we have done. I think the signs are there for me to keep pursuing this inner journey.

2. I've pretty much written about this already -- overcoming fear and anxiety, especially cardiac anxiety -- and working with healing to change my fears. 

I'm not anticipating big challenges in 2015 -- I think just continuing to follow the spiritual path and to get my strength back after surgery in January will be challenge enough.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 18

1. What nourishes your soul? How would you like to incorporate more of this into your life in 2015?

2. Ah ha moment: Did you have an “ah ha” moment this year?  Was it a big one?  Or just a small enlightenment?

1. My reiki group began to meet early in 2014, and it has nourished the spiritual yearning within me all year, although I want more -- and we are bonding as a group and beginning to deepen what we're doing. I think there are more people hungry for spirit these days, and sometimes the traditional church doesn't quite fill all that need. The wonderful thing about the reiki/spirit group is that it is compatible with any religious practice, so doesn't replace church participation and membership or beliefs. I love that, not that I am a part of a church here, but some of our members are.

As we have gotten to know each other better, we are contributing talents and interests to shape what we are doing, and being open to opportunity to learn and experience more.

At one meeting, we brought drums or instruments and enjoyed a musical circle with lots of energy and rhythm, drawing spirit energy in a big way. One result of that meeting was that I now have my own drum, a heart spirit drum made for me by a craftsman that one of our circle knows well, and at least two more are ordering drums for themselves. 

At the Winter Solstice yesterday (clearly I'm writing this post a few days late!), we met at one of our group's home in the country and gathered by a little singing creek in a green meadow. It's been rainy here for most of December (and we aren't complaining since California has been in such a drought), but yesterday was fairly mild with only a slight mist in the air. We had a fire going to warm up our drums and ourselves, and we invited spirit with a wonderful drum and flute circle, ceremoniously discarded those things that no longer wish to carry with us, and set intention for the new year. We laughed, played, prayed, drummed, and welcomed the Return of the Sunchild to us. And then we ate chocolate and toffees and bourbon balls and cinnamon sticks and tangerines and persimmons and coffee and tea. It was a glorious day.

More of that. Every quarter at least. 

2. I don't remember a huge 'ah-ha' moment this year. There was a realization moment -- perhaps an 'ah-ha' -- when my cardiologist told us that I was the 'perfect' candidate for an ablation and that it could get rid of my afib and allow me, perhaps, to get off heart meds and blood thinners. I remember thinking "yeah, no, maybe in the future" and then went home and read about the procedure. Processed it, as I do with most major decisions. Resisted. Thought. Talked. Watched some videos. And then saw my doctor a few weeks later and told her I was ready to do it. The EP called me the next day to schedule an appointment. It could change the quality of my life completely. 

It has. 

I am off blood thinners and heart meds. I have been in normal sinus rhythm since Aug. 25. (and yes, I know that the heart can take up to a year to heal, and that yes, afib can come back). For now, I'm good. I'm so grateful. And it is a big 'ah-ha' to feel normal heart rate and rhythm EVERY DAY.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 17

1. How can you stop being an a**hole, get out of your own way and make room for more of your magic to happen in 2015?
2. Work: What sort of work did you do in 2014?  Was it new to you?  Did you take on new responsibilities?  Change jobs?  Or take on a new task at home?

 Boy howdy, I am behind on prompts! That's what happens when I have stuff to do during the day, I guess.

So I'm not really sure that I can relate much to the first prompt. As a retiree, I pretty much go with the flow of things and try to do what appeals to me. I've been open to what comes along and about giving most opportunities a shot before I either abandon it or pursue something further. 

I'm sure that I'm pretty good at being an asshole too, but I don't think it happens as frequently as it used to, mostly because I really try not to put myself in positions where I revert to that behavior. 

And work. No, I did not work outside the home, with a boss, for pay. I didn't do anything for actual pay. I don't WANT to do anything like that, frankly!

But I worked. I worked on ME. I worked on my attitude of gratitude. I worked on fear and anxiety and diminishing it. I worked on inviting more spirit into my life. I worked at loving who I am, warts, extra pounds, judgmental attitude, and all. 

This is not new to me. But the freedom to really work at it is still a huge blessing, and to be free of distractions like making a living and dealing with unpleasant people at  a job. 

More positive work is ahead in 2015, I'm sure. I've begun some new things that I am having fun pursuing, and I want to be open to more of those.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Reverb 14. Day 16

1. Like many folks, I picture myself as a modern day Wonder Woman, trying to use my superpowers, to do lists and pure force to get what I want. In 2014, I found that my effort wasn’t often tied to my desired outcomes -- except when it was.

In 2015, is there something you’d like to try harder at because you believe it would make all the difference? 

Conversely, what is something you could stop trying so hard at that might actually help you manifest what you’d like?

2. 1000 Words: There’s the old saying that a photo is worth 1,000 words.  Give us a photo with that impact that sums up some significant event of your 2014, or give us 1,000 words about a pivotal moment in 2014.

I'm not just chomping at the bit to respond to either of these today. 

With #1, I'm just not in that mode of thinking anymore. Back when I was working and 20 years younger, yeah, it might have made some sense to practice or to reflect on this. 

Nowadays, I am more about taking care of my needs and paying attention to my physical issues, and doing what I can to mitigate those issues. I don't know that there is anything there I could 'try harder' to do that I think would make 'all' the difference. There are a few things I know I can do that will definitely make a difference -- the two primary ones being to lose some weight and to ramp up my exercise and flexibility program. But 'all' the difference? No. 

Neither is there anything I can stop doing that will manifest what I want -- which is to live peacefully and healthily for many more years. I am already doing things to help that along. I have stopped behaviors that were detrimental to that end, at least mostly. Eating is not optional, and I refuse to completely stop eating some of the sweet things I enjoy, but do try to make my consumption moderate. 

So no, I guess my response is that I am doing all I can, where I am, with what I've got right now. 

And regarding the picture -- I have already written a bunch of words about the significant event of 2014 -- yep. The ablation. The only picture that would adequately illustrate this is a 'before' picture of an EKG with me in afib, and an 'after' picture of an EKG with me in normal sinus rhythm. While I have the latter, I don't have the former. But picture a squiggly, uneven EKG for the former, and a nice, normal EKG for the latter. That's where I am now, and where, by the grace of God, I'll stay.


Monday, December 15, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 15

1. What are you really proud that you made happen in 2014, despite the gremlins? And what will you do anyway in 2015?

2. Soul food: What food did you discover this year?  Or maybe you discovered a new way to prepare your favorite food.  Or a new cookbook.  Or a new restaurant.  Tell us about your culinary adventures.

1. Here's the broken record again....I went to the cardiologist and EP for tests and monitors and an ablation...despite HUGE fear and anxiety and what-ifs and gremlins. Yay me!!! And I will continue to go in 2015. 

Seriously, that was an enormous step for me, overcoming 12 years of fear because of a misdiagnosed heart attack  that turned out to be a gangrenous gall bladder back in 2002. Finally instead of waiting until I actually DID have a heart attack or something else, I actively sought out a cardiologist who did testing and worked with me to determine what my issues are, and then went to an EP for the ablation which, hopefully, has fixed the afib and aflutter. If I still have issues surrounding the heart -- and that's likely, given my high blood pressure and family history -- I'll deal with them, one at a time. I want a quality of life and a freedom from that kind of unreasonable fear enough to continue to do that. 

2. Oh, I do love to eat and cook.  But I don't recall finding a new food this year. I did some stuff with quinoa again this year and liked it; I found a couple of good bread and muffin recipes using winter squash -- which we're not fond of as a veggie. But new? No.

So I'll share some of my favorite recipes, the ones I use often, or that are my 'go-to' recipes for potlucks and events.

Favorite dessert (although I seldom meet a dessert I don't like): Tiramisu Anacapri. As reasonably healthy as tiramisu can get. Everyone loves this stuff.

Favorite way to eat brussels sprouts: Addictive Brussels Sprouts Salad. Addictive might be a bit too enthusiastic, but this is a wonderful way to serve sprouts as a salad.

Favorite green salad: Apple, Bleu Cheese, Pecan Green Salad. From the Pioneer Woman. Big yum, and very easy to throw together.   

Favorite pasta dish (although I love pasta): Angel Hair Pasta Delight.  Use rotisserie chicken and you've got a very quick, easy, delicious meal. Especially good with fresh tomatoes and spinach from the garden. 

Favorite appetizer to take to gatherings: Marinated Ham and Cheese Buns. This always gets great reviews although there is nothing low-fat about it. I usually use whole wheat buns at least! 

Favorite cookie: Taku Lodge Ginger Cookies although with my own additions: I use slightly less ground ginger and add about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and 1/3 cup of chopped crystallized ginger. They are FABULOUS cookies. We got to eat them at Taku Lodge in 2001 and I've been making them ever since. These are best made as is -- they don't healthify with the same good results. 

We eat a lot of fresh food. I never buy frozen or boxed meal starters -- too expensive, too much sodium and other bad stuff, and it is very easy to cook from scratch, or nearly so. I confess I do use the ubiquitous 'cream of ...." soup in some recipes although I usually use the low fat low sodium versions. I do not use salt except in baked goods, figuring we can salt at the table if necessary. We eat a lot of fresh veggies and salads and fruits. I like to bake bread in my wonderful Zojirushi breadmaker -- better control over what goes into it -- although I do buy bread too, mostly based on carb counts and fiber. 

We eat a combination of a diabetic diet and an atrial fibrillation diet, and we are very consistent with the amount of veggies every day (the afib part of it), and also the carb counts per meal (the diabetic part of it). I'm grateful for the number of products now that are high fiber/low sugar.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 14

1. The idea of rooting down into your own personal beliefs and center of truth is an ongoing process, and many things can serve as anchors or roots as you move through life.

What rooted or anchored you in 2014?

And where do you want to put down roots in 2015?

2. One word: What one word could describe your 2014?

1. Moving through all the fear and anxiety and change that I did this year both around my heart issues and also around my daughter's issues required from me the faith that things could be better than they were. 

And so I took one step at a time and let go of some things -- like the financial involvement in my daughter's life and desire to steer her life in the direction I thought it should go, for instance. I'd started that process more than a year ago then, but really took definite steps to get myself out of it -- and in the process this year, I've lost any interest in playing detective and finding out details that she often omits in conversation. Her path is hers to live and to manage, and not mine, and I will not be easily drawn into any future drama. 

That all required faith from me that she indeed could do this, that I could indeed let go. 

The whole heart health problems demanded faith that it could improve and that I would be okay through it all. One step at a time. One procedure, one call, one visit, one test at a time. And it has gotten both easier and better.

So for 2015, I want to keep faith, but I want to add strength: in body and mind and spirit. Practice the techniques I learned this year, rebuild body strength, and continue to grow in spiritual paths.

2. Duh. 

#Reverb14, Day 13

1. Step one: set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many answers as you can think of to the question: 'When and how was I brave in 2014?' Note: remember the private, intimate and small ways in which you were brave as well as the big public ways.

Step two: Choose one of more of those moments of bravery and write a letter yourself back at the beginning of 2014, letting you know how brave you are going to be that year.

Step three: Write yourself a short reminder to tuck into your wallet or post above your desk of just how brave you can and will be in 2015.

2. On writing: Chances are, if you’re participating in #reverb it’s because you like writing.  Or at least want to like writing.  Writing is like a muscle.  Use it or lose it.  What do you do every day to hone your craft?  Or, what would you like to do each day to contribute to your writing?

1. Well, you already know from these prompts that I think my bravest moments were centered around going to the cardiologist and doing some testing and then going to the electrophysiologist and getting an ablation. Each of those moments, each appointment or phone call, required a measure of bravery. Each side effect of the medications I was put on required bravery to power through and be patient. Each missed event because of how I felt also required bravery. And after the ablation, it was a bit like waiting for the other shoe to drop: I was hypervigilant about every twitch and twinge and throb anywhere in my chest. Scary things went through my head, but I tried to be brave about it.
I wouldn't have believed it had I an inkling at the beginning of 2014, honestly. So no letter. I have already written my love letter to myself.

And my touchstone in 2015 will be what it's been in 2014: if not now, when? That almost always requires bravery to answer.

2. I do love writing to prompts because it does require a commitment to writing every day, or at least planning to write daily. Sometimes I fall a few days behind, like today. But I'm here, I'm answering the prompt. And I'll post the result.

At our monthly Writers Forum meeting yesterday, one of our members told Tony that she writes a poem every morning. I like that. I like that we go to the Writers Forum meetings, although we've missed some, and associate with others who love the craft and are writing and publishing. I love the idea of writing a poem every morning. Poetry is a form I used to write long ago, and have worked at it off and on, mostly off. Maybe it's time to try it again and see what comes out. 

We also have chosen The Daily Writer as one of our morning readings for 2015, and there is a prompt every day. That may be good for both of us to stimulate our minds and writing.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 12

1. It all starts with kindness. Everything I have learnt, everyone I have interviewed, every word I have studied has guided me to this simple but profound conclusion: true happiness begins and ends with self-kindness.

No more guilt. No more shoulds. No more comparison.

And the very best way to give your weary soul some kindness at the end of this year? A love note.

Write a letter from you to you... filled with forgiveness, love, and a big bear hug.

2. Future self.  Write a letter to your future self, telling the future you about what you hope for you.'

Dearest Beth,
You are simply an amazing woman. Really. Your husband tells you that all the time, your daughters have told you that many times, in spite of all the past tensions and boundary-setting and arguments you've had with them, in spite of the times when you've sobbed over what you knew was likely the end of your relationship with them (and it hasn't been, so far anyway!).  

You've eased off that self-recrimination, that stupid little interior judge that pronounces you too fat, too mouthy, too lazy, too unhealthy, too -- well, you remember. That's GREAT. Keep it up in 2015, girlfriend. Let it goooooo....for good.  .

You overcame some really scary fears this year, didn't you, and you replaced them with light, and with kindness, and with energy, and you learned new tools and techniques to help you going forward. We know the fear can come back, but you don't have to let it be so paralyzing, so frightening. You know how to fight that blackness and fear, so continue to learn and practice and be positive. Take kindest care of yourself, your body, your health, your mind. You are the only YOU.

You've done better at doing things you want to do this year and not putting them off: do more of that, too. (This is not a dress rehearsal, sweetpea.) Have fun, go to events and places you are drawn to, do things you think you'd enjoy, play a lot more! Travel more: you're already planning some great trips to see friends and family and both new and old places. Embrace that with your whole heart and mind. Keep a journal of the trips so you remember the little things, the day-to-day things. You'll love doing it, you know.

Say thank you to the Universe every day, and say thank you to the people who matter to you. Send more cards. Write more letters. You are filled with so much gratitude -- share that with people who may need to receive it. Be generous with yourself and your loved ones, even more than you already are. You are so, so blessed!

What matters most is kindness, and you have been the recipient of much kindness this year. Do more. Be more. Love more. Live fully, as you've been learning to do. Forgive yourself -- you know, all those piddly little past memories that still occasionally come at you of things you think you did 'wrong'? You know who else remembers them? NO ONE. So let it goooooo. 

Be exactly who you are, Beth, not what you think someone expects you to be. You are enough. You are loved. You are funny and smart and wise. And yes, a smart-mouth sometimes, and yes, a little cynical sometimes. But that is who you ARE. You are unique, lovie. There is no one else like you in the Universe! Isn't that amazing? 

I love you, Beth. I love who you are becoming, every day, every month, every year. You aren't done yet! So get out there and LIVE, girl. 

All love and blessings to you, always --
Your Highest Self



Thursday, December 11, 2014

#Reverb14, Day 11

1. What tiny rituals: signal that your day is starting; help you ease into a creative project; give you closure from an intensive task; or mark other significant milestones in your day? What new rituals would you like to create in the new year?

2.  Small Pleasures: What small pleasures did you discover this year?

Ritual becomes even more important in the aging process -- the little things, the order in which you accomplish routine tasks, the way you structure your day. You can call it routines or daily chores or whatever you want, but it takes the form of ritual. 

Wikipedia says "A ritual 'is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.'" 

Disrupt our rituals, and it can discombobulate everything. I understand that much better nowadays, although we are still young enough not to go off into anxiety attacks about it. But it used to happen frequently with my mother in her later years, and I didn't quite get it then. 

Our beautiful mornings nearly always begin with Tony rising before I do.. He has his own morning rituals. When I get up, I open the blinds in bedroom and living room on the way to the kitchen where I put hot water into a mug along with an Irish Breakfast teabag (occasionally varying that with a cup of decaf coffee or a decaf Earl Grey), and then sit in my big green leather chair with my iPad and tea for 20-30 minutes, usually with McMurphy in my lap, loving on me. Tony fixes breakfast  -- eggs or cereal or oatmeal -- and we do our daily readings from two books we choose every year. And then the day begins to vary, depending on who's doing what.

I love that routine, that ritual. We do much the same when we travel in Sallie, our travel trailer. It is a buffer for me between the warmth of the bed and a dream world, and the necessities of the day. Once we close the books on the last reading, I'm ready to face the rest of the day. 

I would like to create a ritual around exercising in the new year, an almost automatic action of climbing on the bike and pedaling for half an hour. I don't do that consistently and I neeeeeeeed it. I also want my Tuesday and Thursday mornings to include yoga class again, where I get up from the breakfast table, shower and change into yoga clothing, and head out. I always feel so much better -- and so totally virtuous -- when I intentionally do something that helps my strength and stamina. 

I have always loved ritual, whether in the form of family tradition or more formal church ritual, and have written several to observe seasonal change, leavings and arrivings, and to celebrate friendships. I think even our little every day rituals bring some comfort and continuity to our lives and help us celebrate those moments.

2. Funny little prompt here -- small pleasures. 

One of the first that instantly came to mind is my little Pampered Chef microwave pots. I bought these during an RV show early in the year, but the first time I used them, in June, I loved them! They are covered saucepans that will easily hold and heat soup or casseroles, and for an RV trip, they are perfect -- lighter weight than Pyrex and more easily gripped. It was a silly little glow of pleasure, but I am so glad I have them.

Another little pleasure I discovered this year is the Kindle Paperwhite, the backlit e-reader. It goes easily into a purse, holds a charge for a long time, and I can read in the dark without disturbing my honey or anyone else. Although I still and always love the feel of a paper book, I have become a big fan of the Kindle, especially when paired with Kindle Unlimited -- another little pleasure of this year -- because I don't have to keep the book or store them -- and I have shelves and shelves of books. That's growing more important to me as I try to recycle or give away things that no longer suit me, and that includes some of my extensive library. 

While I found it several years ago now, the Thermos Hydration bottle is without a doubt the BEST water bottle ever. It stays cold, even icy, in temperatures exceeding 105, and doesn't sweat. We use them constantly and they always go with us when we are in the car. Every time I flip it open, I am grateful for this little treasure and the cold drink it offers. A small pleasure is sometimes the very best kind.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 10

1. Generosity is free of obligations; it opens the heart, and creates warmth and connection between the giver and receiver. When I cultivate generosity the holidays become something I look forward to sharing with my loved ones.

Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?

2. Leap of faith: What decision did you make this year that was a leap of faith?  Did it work out?  Or not?

 1. I was especially blessed this year with friends who said prayers and/or sent me reiki energy for my cardiac ablation at the end of August, and a group of local women who spent time with me in reiki sessions to boost my energy and calm my fears before the procedure. The result was miraculous: I was not afraid at all to go into this procedure, and indeed felt as though I was literally cushioned with love and prayers both before and after it. That generosity has continued and has had great results too, as I have been afib-free, at least as far as I can feel it, ever since -- nearly four months now. 

Because of that kindness and loving energy, I have been available when others have needed help or prayers for themselves or their loved ones, and have been lucky enough to participate in several hands-on sessions to help people who are frightened or worried, in addition to including them in my own daily prayers.

There are some wonderfully generous people in our community who inspire and challenge me to be more generous as well with my time, my gifts, and through prayers and actions. I am so grateful to those who have shown me such generosity, and their actions make me want to reciprocate, to pay it forward and also repay it. 

2. I feel a bit like a broken record when I talk so much about the ablation, but it truly was not only a huge step for me in overcoming long-standing fear and anxiety, but also required a huge leap of faith. Ablation does not always work: often the heart can heal the burns a little too well and the afib or flutter comes back, requiring a second procedure, and sometimes even a third. Some people have had multiple procedures without relief. 

While it can take the heart up to a year to truly heal, I have passed the first nearly four months without recurrence of either afib or flutter, at least as far as I can tell. As part of the three-month evaluation I wore a monitor for two weeks which is still being evaluated, and I expect to hear from my cardiologist/electrophysiologist soon about the findings -- but I feel positive about it. And I'd do it again if I needed to. 

Talk about needing to trust! A skilled team threads a tiny catheter up your femoral artery to your heart, pokes a hole in the heart to get to the left ventricle, and proceeds to burn tiny wounds around the pulmonary veins and other areas where they find afib, which interrupt the wonky electrical circuit that causes these problems. 

So far, so good. I am so grateful!

#Reverb14: Day 9

1. As you enter into the new year, what would you like to do/make/have/be more often? How will you bear witness and celebrate the tiny milestones? How will you respond on the occasions when your intentions do not come to pass?

2. The Plank: It has been said that you must learn to take care of yourself before you can be effective at taking care of others.  How did you take care of yourself in 2014?  How will you take care of yourself in 2015?

Yesterday slipped away from me -- a long day of shopping for both donation gifts (for kids, through my Bunco group) and the beginnings of my own shopping. Got home and left 45 minutes later for the photo club Christmas party, and didn't get home from that until about 10. I was ready for bed.

1. In other words, what do I want to do with my life next year? I would like to spend much less time going to doctors, for one, and more time traveling with my honey. I want to feel stronger and steadier on my feet. I want to learn some new things and practice some of those I learned this year. I want to feel content and happy more often. 

With the afib issue looking far more positive and the painful foot issue scheduled for surgery in early January, my health concerns should be pretty much resolved. Time to make exercise and rehab a priority again and regain all the strength and balance I've lost over the past three years. Feeling better and stronger will mark that successful venture. And always there is the January diet plan that will kick in, which I'm hoping will work in tandem with the getting stronger and steadier routine. How will I know it is working? When I can walk easily without getting winded quickly, and when I don't feel unsteady. 

There are always slips and lapses. The important thing is not to abandon the effort because things are not progressing as quickly as I'd hoped or that I escaped back into comfort food for a while. This is truly a lifelong effort that is done one day at a time. 

That's all we ever get anyway, one day at a time. I can handle pretty much anything for one day. And I'm a lot better about not beating myself up all the time. I can do this and I want to do this. 

2. I can save one life --  mine. Since I read Mary Oliver's life-changing poem "The Journey," a few years ago, that has been my touchstone, but this has not always been the case.  And while my husband looks out for me constantly, he can only do so much: the rest is up to me. 

I took a very proactive path about my health in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015, although I hope 2015 will be largely rehab-oriented and not quite so much medical procedure and medication-driven! 

I own my mistakes and my faults, but I don't own any one else's, nor can I manage another's life. I think I may finally understand this, hard though it is. I am finally living life doing what I want to do, putting me (and us, my husband and me) first, and that is a radical change. Nobody else gets to call the shots on what I do or don't do; nobody gets to make me feel guilty about it either. What a concept, eh?

More of this in 2015. Happier. Wiser. Stronger. More generous with myself and my love.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 8

1. The hectic pace of our lives can make it difficult to remain connected to the things and the people that matter the most to us. We get wrapped up in our work or our busyness and connection falls by the wayside. 

How have you created and/or sustained connections in your life this year?

2. Hero: Who was your hero this year? Tell us why. What makes a hero in your eyes?

1. This is a blessing of retirement, I think -- to be able to spend time when and how and with whom you want. And yet there are still friends I seldom see or talk to, not because I don't want the connection, but because we get caught up in routines and travel and simply don't follow through. 

Friendship requires intention to sustain no matter what age we are, or to what degree our 'busy-ness' takes over our lives. When I was younger, I still found time to be with friends, to write letters or call (since there was no email nor cell phones back in the olden days). Not sure how I did it, but I made the time because it was important to do so.

Facebook has been a wonderful way for me to maintain some connection with friends I don't see or talk with  ear-to-ear very often, to strengthen some familial ties that have never been strong because of great distance between our homes, and even to nurture friendships that are much more local. This year I got to see a cousin I hadn't seen in, oh, more than 40 years, in great part because of the connection we'd established through Facebook! I try not to be a nuisance by reposting too much stuff, but making my comments personal. By reading posts and seeing pictures, I can get a much better idea of what is going on in the lives of some friends, what they like and don't like, and learn a lot about them. That is fun and interesting, and I hope they feel the same way about what I post!

The new reiki study and practice group that I began attending early this year has been the best new connection, however, meeting monthly but often connecting more than that through a FB group and/or meeting for a reiki session. Most of the members are new friends for me, and I am loving getting to know them better both through our meetings and classes, but also through our FB group and their pages. 

Social media can be a total pain and too much of an obsession, but it also can really help build connections when used responsibly and honestly. 

I still like sending emails (seldom snail mail any more), though, and for the past several years have sent a brief email five days a week to a few family members and friends (added at their request) just to stay in touch and let them know I'm thinking of them every day. I always include a quote that either I need to hear or think they do. I don't expect a reply from any of them, but occasionally get a response that lets me know my correspondence is appreciated. It's sort of like a little prayer for each of them as I send it -- and it blesses me too. 

And I've gotten a few snail mail cards from friends and/or family too, non-birthday ones, that have made me feel loved and blessed. It may be old-fashioned, but there can be a real pleasure in re-reading a note or a card that sits on your table or desk. I'd like to be more intentional about sending those this next year.

2. While I hadn't thought of her as a 'hero,' I have a friend and teacher and neighbor who has been such a wonderful friend and mentor and teacher to me this year especially.  Jessie Woods is a local business owner (The Gold Exchange) who is usually at the forefront of any downtown business promotion, but also is an incredibly creative and generous person who gives her time, expertise, and money to charitable causes, and sponsors several of them. 

She is also a reiki master and my teacher, and has donated space for our reiki group to meet and practice. And she has been right there for me every time I have asked for help with healing mind or spirit, even when I know she has been busy with meetings and her own business. 

She puts her beliefs and words into generous and thoughtful actions in a way I've seldom seen. And her example makes me want to donate my money and energy to others, to be kind and available when I'm asked for help, and to live my own beliefs in a positive and helpful way.

I am so grateful for her example and presence in my life and in our town, and for her leadership and generosity in establishing our reiki study group. We are all blessed who participate in it, and who know her.  Jessie makes a difference in the lives of many people in our area, and she inspires me to be kinder, more generous, and to keep learning and growing. Thank you, my friend.

#Reverb 14, Day 7

1. Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2014, self-portrait or otherwise!

2. Victory Laps: What was your biggest accomplishment this year?

This was taken in June at Collier Memorial State Park in Oregon where we were camping, not that you can see much of it! 

2. My biggest accomplishment? Overcoming the extreme anxiety and fear related to my heart and atrial fibrillation to have a cardiac ablation in August. So far, so good.  

In no small measure, that is because of the reiki group and training I've had this year. I am so grateful to this little group of strong, spiritual, kind women who have helped me through the fear into a place of peace. 


Saturday, December 06, 2014

#Reverb 14, Day 6

1. Despite our usually sunny dispositions and dedication to the practice of “assuming positive intent,” we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual.

While I’m sure you always handle it with the tact and finesse for which you’ve become so well known, I’m going to ask you to step outside yourself for just a moment.

Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?

2. Money:  Where did you spend your money this year?  Did you save it instead?  What, if anything, would you like to do with your finances this year?

1. Just when you think you're making progress on creating boundaries and letting stress go, here comes this prompt, inviting us to let our inner tyrant out. Huh. 

I haven't really had a close encounter of the nasty kind for several years, partly because I make it a point to avoid putting myself in the paths of such people, and will leave a situation entirely if necessary. It is my experience that there are no winners here; that in fact responding with similar nastiness will only fan the already hot tempers that are burning up any semblance of reason. And I always react physically -- racing heartbeat, agitated mind, flushed face, and often with tears of rage. Yuk. 

 This is not a new topic for me. I wrote about a couple of instances where there was some really nasty behavior going on in our neighborhood: the first, and then the second, same people. Along with others, I walked out of the meeting, my parting shot to the 80+-year-old man who is still the nastiest person I have ever met being a heartfelt, snarled "F**K YOU." Not something I generally say in public.

As I said yesterday, the strongest statement is often silence, if you can stand it. It frustrates the angry person who wants to get a big, equally nasty reaction out of you. I've certainly been in a few situations where silence would have been taken for acquiescence, however, and I just *had* to open my mouth and say what I thought, which, of course, resulted in escalation of the whole thing to a new nasty high. There is no point in arguing with someone who is convinced that s/he is in the right about something. Walk out. Don't go back. Ever. If it's family, think long and hard about how much you want this person in your life, causing this much stress to you. Not every person who is related to you by blood can be classified 'family.' 

2. Moneymoneymoneymoney....We are so blessed in retirement to have enough to do what we want to do. Not wild spending spree nor diamonds and expensive car-type money, mind you. But enough to cover our needs and allow us to have fun.

We traveled this year in our little travel trailer, Sallie Forth, spending a couple of weeks in Oregon near Crater Lake, and then another three weeks in Washington state, visiting our daughter and enjoying the incredible beauty and majesty of the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier. We took pictures. We ate good food. We spent time sitting by the ocean, and going to museums, and enjoying our campsites in beautiful surroundings. We had our inside kitties with us too, and that is always a joy. We will do more traveling in 2015. 

We are in the time of life to enjoy the fruits of our years of labor, and we are. There is a balance, of course, in spending retirement dollars because we don't want to overspend and have nothing left should we live longer than expected, but neither do we intend to pinch pennies so our children can enjoy our money when we no longer need it! Our new slogan is "If not now, when?"