Sunday, February 20, 2011


Oookaay! So what's going on? We're nearing the end of february, have you dumped your new year's resolutions yet? You probably did that in mid January. Am I right?  I thought so!
Do you now feel down, tired and lost and as though life has become a series of broken promises that you made to yourself? This feeling can be especially strong this month when many of our resolutions that were so hopeful at the first of the year, have lost their shine.

Michelle Bernhart says it very well.
Braking a promise to ourselves can hurt our spirit, so it is very important to understand this process. We must be careful as we move toward our dreams. We must fight for our resolutions and sometimes resolve to do them more than once. This is the way it is. it is our process.

No one really tells us that feeling lost is part of the process of living a healthy and fulfilling life. In fact, feeling lost is something we usually feel bad about and would prefer to keep private. As january came in the need to attack our lives with focus and urgency was palpable. but what happens when instead of feeling on top of our game, we feel lost and out of sorts.

Feeling lost is not something that we are taught to accept or embrace. Instead it is something that makes us feel really uncomfortable. Although many of us have felt lost at times throughout our lives, we usually greet it with trepidation and fear.

Feeling lost is scary. We don't want to feel as if we have lost our way. We tend to like our lives to be in order and although we might long for something new and exciting to happen, we usually try and keep our lives somewhat predictable. However, as we grow and evolve our world does change and so does the terrain. It is normal to lose our footing especially when one is trying to live a life that is authentic and whole.

Feeling lost makes us hunker down and go within. Our ego breaks down a bit, which often gives us a new and more honest point of view. Our needs become more simple and pure. We remember what we really value, and what we need most in our lives. For a little while we may even feel humble and open to new thoughts and options. although we may want to hurry through this period, connecting fully with the experience may actually be helpful and enlightening.

No matter how hard we try, we can't bully our way through this phase. feeling lost tends to have it's own gestation period. something inside of us is growing and developing. What if we were to face this experience with trust and a new found respect, and understanding that we are really just re-routing our course? This is something bigger than our limited personality and is connecting us with our essential self. Could it be that there is something wiser and more profound than our own ideas and will? 
Sometimes we need to be wired and our limited personality pulled out of the way so that we can realign with our true self.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Regrets anyone? Every now and then a few may creep up on me. I don't want to dwell on them. I'm sure that's not  healthy for anyone. You just have to move on.

One of my regrets was something that I wanted to do when I graduated from High School. Now that was a looong time ago. At the time, it meant the world to me in more ways than one. I had tunnel vision, a burning desire. I wanted to join the Peace Corp.
I was a freshman in H.S.  just when the Peace Corp started (1961). It was all I could think about.
No way my father would let me. He ALWAYS had the last word.
Then one day a Dominican Missionary Nun came to visit us in school to tell us all about the work they do in these poor countries. It sounded like the Peace Corp to me. 
I took all the leaflets she offered. One catch was, of course, to become a Dominican Nun! I was still fired up on doing this kind of work. I went home and thought about it.
Then prepared myself to show it to my parents.
You can imagine if the Peace Corps didn't go over well, this sure didn't. I kept all the material anyway and poured over it every now and then.
I took a summer job in a hospital, which by the way, was run by The Grey Nuns of the Cross. I worked in the emergency room. I loved it! My boss was a nun.
I told her about the Peace Corps and the missionary work. How I would have loved to make a contribution to improve the lives of others. Travel to Africa, Asia, and all these other countries. I told her my father's reactions. 
From that day on, she told me about her experiences and all the places she worked helping people. She said you don't have to go far to help others.
Well, to make a long story short I ended up becoming a Grey Nun of the Cross, with the intentions of becoming a nurse and helping others in that way. 
You guessed it, my father wasn't too happy with that either, but at least I wasn't in another country.

That was all a very long time ago! It wasn't the path that was meant for me.  I think the Grey Nuns wanted me to be a chef. They ended up sending me to a college in culinary arts. 

 I did become a nurse but did it on my own after leaving the convent. Got married, had two children, that I love dearly. Settled into a married life.

OPPORTUNITIES DO POP UP. Years later, when I was around 32 yrs. old, I became aware of the disabled and their problems in the community. THIS was my chance to finally be of service where I was desperately needed. 
I teamed up with a patient friend of mine, Laurence Curtis, who's a quadriplegic and together we did a study on how many disabled people were in this town and what their needs were. 
We ended up with a huge list. this was around 1982-83. Our work was cut out for us.

The town wanted a Committee to study and find ways to meet these needs. So Mr. Curtis and I got heavily involved.
Below are the Committees I myself was involved in.  Laurence curtis was involved in many more, some Commissions he incorporated himself. But that's his story to tell.

Advocate for people with disabilities:
--CAM: Since 1985, Certified Community Access Monitor by the State of Mass. Office on Disabilities(trained in the rules and regs of the Architectural Access Board (CMR 521) for community implementation and compliance).

--WCCD: Wilmington Committee for Citizens with Disabilities, Inc. (a consumer controlled 501(C) (3), charitable non-profit organization established to meet the needs of Wilmington's disabled pop.) Positions held: Board of Directors Secretary for one year, Vice-President for one year and President for two years.

--MVCDA: 1986 to it's incorporation (State 1989 and Federal 1991): The Merrimack Valley Coalition of Disabled Advocates is a 501 (c) (4), civic, non-profit organization representing the disabled citizens of the Merrimack Valley. Positions held: Board of Directors Secretary and Treasurer.

--TAAP: In 1983 I joined the State funded Transportation Advocacy Action Project, studying wheelchair accessible transportation, for greater knowledge regarding such.

--MCCD: 1983 to 1990: The Massachusetts Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities, Inc. is a Statewide 501 (C) (3), charitable, non-profit organization representing the disabled of Massachusetts.

--AIM: 1983 to it's incorporation to WCCD in 1985. In 1983, I joined a committee called Access Is Mandatory that was started a year earlier by the Selectman of the Town of Wilmington to study the situation regarding the disabled of Wilmington.

 It wasn't the Peace Corp, but it was an opportunity to help somewhere. At times, we may have been a bit radical, like when we were told that new sidewalks were installed without curb cuts. We got as many people, who use wheelchairs to get around, to gather at that intersection at 5 PM. This was the busiest time to block the street. We invited the press and the T.V. news anchors.  Of course they all showed up and you can bet curb cuts were put in the next day!

We worked a few years on getting the ADA passed, went to a rally in Washington D.C.

We became more and more radical and got so much done. I might as well tell you, about the time in Boston when we chained WILLING volunteers(who use wheelchairs) to a bus (from a traveling bus company). The bus was at a curb getting ready to go on a trip. The company had bought a new fleet of buses and not one was handicapped accessible.  
Of course we invited the press and the T.V. news people, made lots of fliers to pass around to passers-by. The bus couldn't take off.  
In the end they bought accessible buses! Whatever works, I say.

As far as regrets go. I don't think I regret anything I've done, radical or not.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Depression

For some people, the fall and winter months offer the excitement of a white Christmas, cheerful festivals, hours on the ski slopes, and a perfect excuse to curl up under a blanket with a good book.

But for others, the season is just plain dreadful.
I came across this article and thought I'd share it with you. I've added a few of my photos.

12 Winter Depression Busters


We’ve officially entered the hard months, the “dark ages” as the midshipmen at the Naval Academy say: the time of the year when the sun disappears and the pale complexions of your friends remind you that you had better take your vitamins or else you’ll have a cold to go with your pasty look.
I dread winter each year because many of my depression busters require sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. What does a girl who kayaks and bikes for sanity do in the winter? Lots of things. Here are a few of them:

Sugar will lower your immune system.

1. Watch the sugar.
I think our body gets the cue just before Thanksgiving that it will be hibernating for a few months, so it needs to ingest everything edible in sight. And I’m convinced the snow somehow communicates to the human brain the need to consume every kind of chocolate available in the house.
Depressives and addicts need to be especially careful with sweets because the addiction to sugar and white-flour products is very real and physiological, affecting the same biochemical systems in your body as other drugs like heroin. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes Not Prozac”: Your relationship to sweet things is operating on a cellular level. It is more powerful than you have realized….What you eat can have a huge effect on how you feel.”


2. Stock up on Omega-3′s.
During the winter I’m religious about stocking in my medicine cabinet a Noah’s Ark supply of Omega-3 capsules because leading physicians at Harvard Medical School confirmed the positive effects of this natural, anti-inflammatory molecule on emotional health. I treat my brain like royalty–hoping that it will be kind to me in return–so I fork over about $30 a month for the Mac Daddy of the Omega-3s, capsules that contain 70 percent EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). One 500mg softgel capsule meets the doctor-formulated 7:1 EPA to DHA ratio, needed to elevate and stabilize mood.

3. Give back.
Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to depression.

4. Join the gym.
Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse not to sweat. We have centers today called “gyms” where people exercise inside! Granted, it’s not the same–watching the news or listening to the soundtrack from “Rocky” as you run in place as opposed to jogging along wooded paths with a view of the bay. But you accomplish the goal: a heart rate over 140 beats a minute.
5. Use a light lamp.
Bright-light therapy–involving sitting in front of a fluorescent light box that delivers an intensity of 10,000 lux–can be as effect as antidepressant medication for mild and moderate depression and can yield substantial relief for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I usually turn on my mammoth HappyLite in November, just after my least favorite day of the year: when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” an hour, which means that I have about an hour of sunlight to enjoy after I pick up the kids from school.

6. Wear bright colors.
I have no research supporting this theory, but I’m quite convinced there is a link between feeling optimistic and sporting bright colors. It’s in line with “faking it ’til you make it,” desperate attempts to trick your brain into thinking that it’s sunny and beautiful outside–time to celebrate Spring!–even though it’s a blizzard with sleet causing some major traffic jams.
Personally, I tend to wear black everyday in the winter. It’s supposed to make you look thinner. But the result is that I appear as if and feel like I’m going to a funeral every afternoon between the months of November and March. This isn’t good. Not for a person hardwired to stress and worry and get depressed when it’s cold. So I make a conscious effort to wear bright green, purple, blue, and pink, and sometimes–if I’m in a rush–all of them together!

7. Force yourself outside.
I realize that the last thing you want to do when it’s 20 degrees outside and the roads are slushy is to head outside for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. It’s much more fun to cuddle up with a good novel or make chocolate chip cookies and enjoy them with a hot cup of joe.
On many winter days–especially in late January and early February when my brain is done with the darkness–I have to literally force myself outside, however brief. Because even on cloudy and overcast days, your mood can benefit from exposure to sunlight. Midday light, especially, provides Vitamin D to help boost your limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. And there is something so healing about connecting with nature, even if it’s covered in snow.

8. Hang out with friends.
This seems like an obvious depression buster. Of course you get together with your buddies when your mood starts to go south. But that’s exactly when many of us tend to isolate. I believe that it takes a village to keep a person sane and happy. That’s why we need so many support groups today. People need to be validated and encouraged and inspired by persons on the same journey. And with all the technology today, folks don’t even have to throw on their slippers to get to a support group. Online communities provide a village of friendship right at your computer.

9. Head south.
Granted, this solution isn’t free, especially if you live in Maine. But you need not travel like the Kennedys to transplant your body and mind to a sunny spot for a few days. I try to schedule our yearly vacation the last week of January or the first week of February so that it breaks up the winter and so that I have something to look forward to in those depressing weeks following the holidays.
10. Take up a project.
There’s no time like winter to start a home project, like decluttering the house or purging all the old clothes in your kids’ closets. When a friend of mine was going through a tough time, she painted her entire house–every room downstairs with two different colors. And it looked professional! Not only did it help distract her from her problems, but it provided her with a sense of accomplishment that she desperately needed those months, something to feel good about as she saw other things crumble around her. Projects like organizing bookshelves, shredding old tax returns, and cleaning out the garage are perfect activities for the dreary months of the year.

11. Challenge yourself.
My mood can often be lifted by meeting a new challenge–an activity that is formidable enough to keep my attention, but easy enough to do when my brain is muddied. Learning how to record and edit video blogs, for this girl who hates technology, turned out to be great fun. Exploring a new hobby–like scrapbooking. I try to stretch myself in a small way every winter–whether it be taking a writing class, researching the genetics of mood disorders, or trying to build myself a website. It keeps my brain from freezing, like the rest of my body.

12. Light a candle.
If I counted up all the minutes I’ve spent staring into a flame, I wonder how many years of my life that would be. Certainly more than the hours I’ve spent brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It would probably even surpass the combination of bath and shower time. But I just feel better if I stick my face in a hot glowing body of flame.