Monday, January 28, 2013

I Forgot!

Oops!  I missed posting my blog this morning.  I usually write it on Sunday nights, but I totally forgot about it this week.  I don't know if that is an indication that I had a great weekend or if it was just very busy.

Tonight my husband and I were watching a movie that we picked up from Redbox: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I had seen the trailers for it when it first came out, but I really didn't know anything about it. I just knew that some excellent actors like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith were in it.  Since he had a free Redbox rental available, we decided to try it out.  I liked it!  Of course, we are the demographic since it is about retirees and adapting to change in their lives.  Judi Dench is a widow who writes a blog, and when she mentioned it, a light bulb went off in my head.  I had forgotten to write my weekly blog!!!

Memory is an interesting thing.  I usually have an excellent memory with a facile ability to multi-task.  I think that I have always been good at this, and my work over the years has given me a lot of practice.  I have always been good at remembering names and faces which helped me a lot both as a teacher and as an HR professional.  Now that I am retired and getting older, I want to be sure to keep that memory muscle alive and well.

Some of my retirement gifts included books of puzzles, but I have found them to be boring.  I do not enjoy paper/pencil activities very much any more.  I am much more intrigued by technology.  My family laughs at me for playing Facebook games on my computer, but I believe that they keep my mind sharp and challenged.  I also play Solitaire and strategy games on my iPhone as well as jigsaw puzzles on my iPad.  Most of these are daily activities so my mind is being challenged every day.  However, I started wondering if there were other resources available.  That is when I saw an advertisement on TV for Lumosity.

Lumosity is advertised as a way to "improve memory and attention using scientific brain games".   They claim that these activities promote neuroplasticity, and it is true that all of us want our brains to be able to change and respond nimbly as we go about our daily lives.  So, I have decided to try it!  For me, it's just more games to play.

They can be challenging.  One of the games I had tonight was to quickly do mental math and enter the answers into the computer.  I had to really focus and keep on my toes throughout the exercise.  These games remind me of a game I used to play on a handheld device which calculated your brain age and gave you exercises to do.  However, this one is much more robust.  They have a free version which is the one I play.  I am having fun, and maybe it will help me remember to write my blog on time in the future.  Try it out and let me know what you think.  You may also find that it is fun!

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, January 21, 2013


The temperature on our thermometer right now is -3 degrees!  I don't care where you live or what you are used to, this temperature is COLD!  The last couple of days we have had a lot of activity at (and below) our feeders.  We always have a lot of animals and birds visit for food, but there were several events that were unusual.  The first was a daytime visit from an opossum.  We had never seen one in our yard in Minnesota before.  He spent quite a bit of time eating and seemed in no hurry to leave.

The next thing I noticed was that we had more birds visiting at once than we normally do.  The feeders were full of birds eating.from every available port!

We also had lots of squirrels scurrying away with feed, and tonight we had 3 deer on our deck eating corn.  It is clear that the animals knew what to do when the temperature turned cold!  That made me wonder: what do we do to prepare for these cold days?

You  have heard the stories of people in the South emptying store shelves when they hear that snow is approaching.  We don't see that happen here in Minnesota since we are used to a lot of snow.  I think that we do go to the store, but we go to get specific ingredients.  Facebook is full of accounts of people cooking on these very cold days.  My daughter-in-law made some potato leek soup that sounded wonderful.  We had chicken wings and tomorrow will have ribs.  Others spend time baking.  Heating the house with the oven is a welcome enterprise.  Soups and chili are popular, but I think any kind of comfort food fits the bill.

These cold days we also look for indoor forms of entertainment.  Many people hop on their computer to play video games, browse the internet, or connect to others through Facebook   My younger son was on his computer a lot today.  This connection to others sends some of us to the phone to talk to friends and family   Grabbing a hot cup of coffee, cocoa, tea, or cider and immersing oneself in a book is another pleasure on these cold days.  My oldest son was reading a book when I called him earlier.   We rented two movies from Redbox to watch: one action movie and one comedy.  Television and movies are a big hit today. So are fireplaces!  Many are cuddling in front of the fire with a loved one and a glass of wine.

Finally, my thoughts and gratitude go to those people who have to work outside in this weather.  I'm particularly grateful for the police and firefighters who put their needs aside to protect us.  I hope that you are safe and warm with your loved ones and finding ways to enjoy yourself in spite of the weather.

 I would be interested in hearing what you are doing during these cold days so please write a comment to let me know.  Have you found your joy today?

Monday, January 14, 2013


Just like many others in our country right now, I am suffering from a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and stuffy sinuses.  I have watched the news reports about the flu and am fairly certain that I have an old fashioned cold.  I had no fever and no aches, but the reporting sure does make you look carefully at what you are feeling.  I am one who always gets a flu shot.  I feel that it is my duty since I live with others whose health is compromised by asthma or Crohn's disease.  My getting the flu shot is a protection for them.  I also believe that flu shots have helped me a lot over the years: either I don't get the flu when others around me do or I get a milder, abbreviated case of it.

If you are like me, you have seen the news stories about the spread of the flu.  I have seen reports that talked about the spread of the flu across the United States, reports that outlined the symptoms, reports that discussed deaths from complications of the flu, reports about what you can take if you get the flu, or when to go to the doctor.  All of these reports encourage everyone to get a flu shot, and many of them throw out the word "pandemic".  They often follow this by saying it isn't a pandemic yet so I wonder why they even used the word at all!

Plague is a game that I sometimes play on my iPad.  It is a game where you infect a certain part of the world, establish criteria so it mutates and spreads, and creates a pandemic throughout the world.  There is also a board game called Pandemic: On the Brink.  Sounds weird, but these are fun because you have to use strategy to win.  This is clearly the world of game play.  However, in reality, pandemics can be very scary!  So why is the media sensationalizing this flu season by using this word while denying that it is that bad?  I think it is a way to get people excited about watching the news.  I think it is also a way to encourage people to get a flu shot through scare tactics!

While I don't believe in scaring people about the flu, I personally believe that everyone should get the flu shot every year so that we don't spread it around as easily.  I know that everyone does not agree with this viewpoint.  However, it saddens me when I hear of young and old dying from complications of the flu.  Yes, some of them had the flu shot, but it may be that they were exposed because someone they came into contact with did not.  Each person needs to make this personal decision, but I would urge all to get the flu shot to protect others in your life if not yourself!

I hope that all of you are getting a lot of rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying healthy!  And as always...

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, January 7, 2013


Have you noticed all of the commercials about diets and exercise equipment on TV?  Each year we are inundated with these messages about losing weight and getting fit.  This is certainly due to the fact that many of us make new year's resolutions about those topics.  We have a lot of hope that this is the year we can stick to it and be healthier.  I certainly encourage anyone who has the conviction to set this type of goal and the dedication to these healthy resolutions. My commitment to becoming more healthy due to weight loss and exercise is evident with my vertical sleeve surgery last September.  After losing weight, I am feeling so much better than I used to feel.  It is amazing to me that activities are easier and that my stamina is so much better.

Health is a very interesting thing.  When we are healthy, we don't think about it.  We just take it for granted. We go about our daily lives never realizing the ease with which we accomplish our tasks.  However, when something happens to take that away, we realize how wonderful it was to feel healthy. A friend recently had surgery and is confined to a cast.  Her mobility is greatly reduced, and she can't drive for several weeks.  She entertains us with pictures of her cast's various outings, and everything is shown with the cast in the picture.  While she has a great sense of humor, she is struggling with pain as she goes about her daily activities and is trying to get her life back to "normal".  Another friend is recovering from pneumonia and is astonished at how easily she becomes exhausted.

As we get older, many people live with pain and illness on a daily basis to the point where we forget what it was like to feel good.  Years ago, I had gall bladder surgery.  After recovery, I realized that I hadn't felt well for over a year but didn't know it.  I had become so used to how I felt that I no longer knew what healthy felt like.  I had established a new "normal".  There are others, irregardless of age. who suffer from what many call an invisible illness.  These are diseases that can compromise a person's daily life and change their idea of healthy.

 I recently saw the following on Facebook and shared it on my page,
"Hard to explain to someone who has no clue.  It's a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside..."  It went on to list invisible illnesses such as Crohn's, PTSD, Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, Diabetes, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, MS, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, etc.

If you have never struggled with one of these invisible illnesses or experienced it with a loved one, you can't really understand how it changes your life.  If you know someone who has one of these illnesses, keep in touch with them; reach out through Facebook, texts, and phone calls.  Invite them to do things with you or suggest hanging out with them-watching a movie at home, playing a game, or just talking.  If they don't feel well enough today, invite them again and again.  You may catch them when they finally feel like doing something, and your support and friendship will mean so much during the tough times.  Let them know that you do understand and care.  Make this your new year's resolution because it will truly make a difference in someone's life this year.

Above all else, find joy each day when you feel healthy!

My blog tagline takes on more meaning today:  Have you found your joy today?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!  This is the time when many of us make our New Year's Resolutions.  I'll admit that I have often made resolutions that THIS was the year that I would lose weight and exercise more.  Well, as most of you know, I made a huge commitment to those very things when I had weight-loss surgery in September.  It was one of  the best decisions I ever made.  After losing 60 pounds, I feel so much better than I have in a long time.  I am committed to seeing this through with continued commitment and dedication to my eating and exercise habits.

With that taken care of, I started wondering what my resolution should be this year.  I believe that it is a good thing to set goals, but my handy "go to" goals were already being taken care of; so what should I choose?

After much deliberation, I have decided to write more during 2013!  I had such a great time writing during my "30 Days of Joy" last June.  By writing every day for 30 days, I rediscovered my joy for writing.  However, I let it slip away.  I wrote 40 blogs during 2012 which means that I only wrote 10 blogs beyond those I wrote in June.   In looking back, I realized that I haven't written a blog since October!

So, I am going to write at least one blog each week in 2013.  This would increase my writing to 12 more times during the year.  I may decide to write more often but at least I will have written 52 times.  I plan on publishing every Monday morning; that way I will have the weekend to write and have something for my followers to read each Monday as they get back into the week's routine.  Hopefully, it will become something that people look forward to reading!

So sign up to follow my blog each week and watch for the first post on Monday, January 7th!

...And as always, have you found your joy today?