Friday, March 21, 2014

A Moving Tale

As Spring creeps ever closer, teasing us with temps inching towards 50, our family prepares for a big move into a new house. 

I've blogged in the past about our efforts to try to build a home, like the saying goes we "gave it the old college try." At this point in our lives a custom-built home is not in our immediate future. We ran into obstacle after obstacle, and after awhile it was time to start listening to what the cosmos were trying to tell us, and scrap the idea! 

After much time spent house hunting and weighing the pros and cons of one home vs. another, we chose a house we thought would best suit our family's needs and an offer was accepted! For the past few months we have been prepping ourselves for our move. 

As any of you readers know, moving is a dreaded chore to most. A few positives do exist, like the never-ending purge that seems to occur! How did we manage to accumulate so much STUFF? Wow, it is a bit amazing to think about all the things that have resided in our home for the past four years! But with that comes a duty to rid ourselves of the things we no longer use or want. Some have made it to local consignment shops, some to friends, some sold online, and a vast amount were donated. It is a very freeing feeling to shed some of the material weight we have been carrying. Of course, that means we are making way for a few new things that will be fun to purchase, but all in due time. 

For now, I must pack another box, carefully wrapping items in paper and labeling where each thing should go, or so I'd like to think. My version of reality is a bit different (think shoved into a container and thrown into the back of the truck and crossing fingers most things survive)! I've never claimed to be super organized, this is a true challenge for me. But somehow we will manage and the kids are very excited about new bedrooms, and a new neighborhood to explore. So while I pack another box, I'm focusing on the positives, a place to call our own will bring. I will be doing my best to make this experience as stress free as possible.

Let me know if you need any moving boxes as we will have plenty to spare in a few weeks!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What If...

What would you do if you suddenly won a pile of money? 

The Mega Millions lottery just reached it's third highest level ever, toppling the $400 million mark! The average American household earned just over $50,000 in 2011. 

It would take approximately 8,000 years to earn that amount of money! A tad longer than most of us are hanging around! My sister claims she wouldn't want that much money, she would not want the headache or responsibility! I told her I would gladly take that over for her. She might change her tune if she actually won! 

I will purchase an occasional ticket and for just a split second allow myself to imagine winning. Your world of opportunity could be endless, depending on how you would choose to live. But with this would come enormous responsibility, not only to try to stay true to yourself and those around you, but to give back. I have many fantasies about the things I could do with that amount of income, the ways I could donate and give to those who have so many needs. It would be a riot to just give to any cause or any person and have it actually make a difference! 

But do we really need millions to make a difference? Could we, the average $50,000 household give and have it impact someone? That answer is clearly yes. We could donate not only money but time or talent. 

I ate lunch with a group of kindergartners, and had several kids needing hugs. Still others simply wanted to tell a story and have someone listen. It didn't cost me a penny, I got to eat lunch and was entertained the entire time! But to that attention-starved kid, maybe I filled a need for a little while. So when I go fork over my dollar for the next chance to win unimaginable millions and wake up the next day to find out it wasn't me who won, I'll remind myself of other ways to win and give back. Those kindergartners might be seeing me a tad more often!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Room to Grow

While coming up with topics to address for the Balance Your 7 Blog, the category I tend to struggle with the most tends to be Spirituality. It's not because I'm not aware of the aspects found within this topic according to the Balance Your 7 website :

Spiritual wellness: Search for meaning and purpose, actions match your values and morals, find peace and harmony.
  • Explore your individual spirituality
  • Spend time alone
  • Meditate
  • Be tolerant of different beliefs
  • Keep a clear sense of right and wrong
I try to incorporate most of this in my daily routine, although meditate is something I need to strive to do more often. What I struggle with is how to grow within this category. I try to find meaning in my daily interactions with people, yet I should reflect more on what those are and try to do this daily. I have an opportunity to spend alone time, and try to find minutes of solitude. Some days are easier than others. As a family, we have found a place of worship that we feel comfortable attending, but we have chosen not to make this a priority in our lives at present, a decision both my husband and I agreed to. I read the occasional book related to growing in spirit. One I've just started is called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's not the type of book I usually read, but it came recommended and might lead to some new personal insights or a fun discussion.

So at this time, I feel like this is an area that I can grow into. 

If given more time in my week, I would really like to look into having our dog become certified for the pet therapy program in town. If this were to happen, the two of us could visit local hospitals, nursing homes and schools. I've been witness to the comfort and joy that a therapy dogs brings to people in critical situations. They visibly relax and shed their troubles, if only for a short period of time. Our local Humane Society offers the necessary training to have your dog qualify for this program. I feel that not only would he benefit from interaction with others in new situations, but I would truly enjoy the experience. It would be a way to share the joy my dog has brought to our family, and what a wonderful way to get out into the community. Now to take a deep breath, and find the time to make this goal happen! I know that as person in need of spiritual growth, this would be a great seed to sow!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weather or Not...

Living in this beautiful Midwestern state, it dawned on me, whatever would we talk about with one another if it weren't for our weather? 
We are one of a handful of places that can go from sunny and warm to downright miserable with a simple blink of an eye. We all must have wardrobes with everything at the ready, long underwear to swimsuits and tank tops! It's enough to make a person dizzy! I mean, why would you choose to live in say, sunny Arizona or southern California? How boring, sunny and warm almost every day! 

I challenge you to take a listen the next time you are in public, watching strangers interact. It is almost a given that the opening topic of most conversations will be centered around the weather. "Can you believe how cold it is?" "Will this winter EVER end?" "Wasn't the sunshine lovely, isn't it funny how 50 degrees felt hot?" 

At least these are a few of the snippets I gleaned from my outings this week. But it is true, that leading with weather as an opening topic, everyone has an opinion. We are in it together, and together is how we will get through the winter without an end! 

I think it's natural to take comfort knowing that our friends and neighbors are suffering right along side us, shoveling and shivering every January and February, and this year, March! But let's take heart, soon we can start to complain about rain, humidity and mosquitoes! The great part about living in Wisconsin, is there is ALWAYS something to talk about, so make a new friend and discuss the weather!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Turning lemons into...

How do you cope with unexpected news? 

Let me rephrase that, how do you cope with unexpected bad news? I've had three friends in the past few weeks each receive news that was not expected and not pleasant. One has learned that her young daughter has a lifelong illness that required a stay in the pediatric intensive care unit, a trip to Madison, and constant monitoring. This news will forever impact their wonderful family and require daily medication and monitoring. My friend reached out for help, and gratefully accepted when it was given. They are arming themselves with information, so they can prepare for what the future holds. She is facing this situation head on, and with an upbeat attitude. I admire that, as I know that it would not be easy to do. 

Another friend called to say that their beloved dog of 12 years had just curled up next to the fireplace, and never woke up. Her kids were at school, and she faced the dreaded task of having to tell them and explain why, how, and when he died. She was so sad, as it was completely unexpected. The positive side to this is he didn't suffer with a lingering illness, and the whole family was able to say their goodbyes. It's one of the hardest life lessons we have to learn, but it is a lesson and a very important one. They are still sad, but already talking about adding a new four-legged brother or sister soon! She's in for a shock, as she hasn't had a puppy in 12 years! 

The last unexpected bit of news was from a childhood friend who had learned that her husband of 10 years was coping with a "mid-life" crisis and wanted to move out of their new house, leaving their three beautiful daughters, so he could "work" on things. This bit of news came completely out of the blue and shocked her. They had a wonderful marriage, or so she thought, but apparently he had not been happy for quite a few months. I had a conversation with her today, and she is one of the strongest people I know. On top of this news, she had to have her gall bladder removed! She comes from a family of very strong-willed women, and she said she will not be someone who uses this as an excuse to quit. She is facing it as a chance to create an opportunity for herself and her girls. She is giving into some "poor me" time, and then moving on with her life. It's such an admirable way to handle it, and I know she will do just that. 

However you choose to handle bad news, hiding out, reaching out, or striking out, know that there are so many resources and people who are usually willing to listen and pitch in. I hope the news you hear today is positive, but if it isn't, don't feel like you are alone, seek comfort in friends and family, and maybe try to turn those lemons into lemonade, and add a shot or two if it helps! 

Dealing with Bad News

Feelings are one of the seven dimensions of wellness explored on the Balance Your 7 website. Click here for links to a variety of articles that may help when you're dealing with bad news.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Birkie Recap

Well I survived the darn ski race. It was quite the experience, not all of it wonderful, but overall very worth it! 

Just before departing for the weekend, I read one of Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quotes "Do something everyday that scares you." Well, this certainly captured that feeling the morning of the race. After receiving a dumping of about nine inches of fresh snow, the thermometer read three degrees above zero as we set out to ski! 

As a general rule, I won't venture out when it's below ten, but looks like I didn't have a choice on this day. So along with about 10,000 fellow racers, we donned our ski clothes and prepared to set off. I was at the very back of the pack, as I chose (one of the only WISE things I did) to ski the 12k race, the "Baby Birkie."

Many of the other racers started a couple of hours before. After stepping into skis and shedding our warm top layer, we waited for our time to depart. Our first kilometer was across an open field, with a direct head wind! Did I mention it was three degrees out? I had some serious second thoughts, but the choice to turn around wasn't much of an option, forward it was. Once we passed the field, the woods blocked most of the wind, the sun was shining, and I decided to try to enjoy the experience as a whole. I can easily say that I did!  
It was difficult terrain, mostly uphill and down, very little flat space to glide. But because of the snow conditions from the night before, and the fact I was skiing over snow that thousands before me had skied, it was like slogging through mashed potatoes! But the ski community as a whole is a smiling, friendly bunch, so I kept on slogging! I was so happy to have the finish line in my sights, and join up with other fellow finishers! And it gave me such a great sense of accomplishment that I completed something that really did scare me! That Eleanor was one smart lady. A friend asked me shortly after the race ended if I would do it again. At this point, with well over a year to prepare, I say sure, bring it on! And to borrow another great quote from Mrs. Roosevelt "I could not at any age be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on." 

I'll just sit by the fireside after I finish the race!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Plastic surgery is great option for many patients

Some friends and I recently had a discussion regarding plastic surgery. 

 To do or not to do? 

 We know several people who work in this field, and have had the privilege of seeing some of the wonderful things that plastic surgeons and their staff can achieve. 

Did you know how many patients after cancer treatments, see a plastic surgeon to have reconstructive surgery? They are able to do a flap, and give the patient back some feeling of self after radiation. Or maybe they have had to undergo a mastectomy and have elected to have implants. After speaking with the surgeons they say patients have such a sense of gratitude and are so appreciative to feel more like themselves with the help of this procedure. 

The other side to this discussion are more elective cases. Like my friends and I were discussing, after the combination of age and childbearing, our bodies are not like they used to be! Nor do we expect them to be, but after eating healthy and regular exercise, it can become a frustrating place to find yourself. I've seen women's self esteem plummet, due to poor body image. I'm not advocating for or against surgical options, but it is so nice to know that there are just that, options. 

The friends I know who have chosen to have an augmentation or a tummy tuck have been so very pleased. It's all done very tastefully and has boosted their sense of overall confidence with regards to their bodies. There are many things to consider, price, downtime, risk, and it is certainly not for everyone. But it is so wonderful to have such an option right in our backyard. 

I think the stigma of plastic surgery has changed, and needs to change. These talented surgeons offer such hope to patients, and it's not all about boobs and botox! Have any questions, don't hesitate to consult with your local Gundersen plastic surgeon today!