Category Archives: health

Do Not Fear the Future

I work on a Division 1 college campus. Classes start next week and already the campus is coming alive as the students start to return – moving into their dorms, finalizing their class schedules, purchasing books and supplies. My department also seems to be waking up from its summer slumber as we welcome the new students and faculty, purchase supplies for various labs and get ready to crack open the new fiscal year.

I enjoy watching the new students, especially the freshmen. They seem to be so excited! (Speaking of excited, the marching band just passed my building! My co-workers and I ran out to cheer them on!) The new students and the new faculty are all looking forward to a great semester.

I remember being a student (non-traditional) and trying to figure out all the unknowns that come with being on a D1 campus. There were a lot of them: At my age, do I still have the ability to study? To write papers? To vigorously pursue an “A”? Will I get along with my younger counterparts? Will I be able to handle all the new technology? I first set foot on a college campus almost 40 years ago – things have changed.

Needless to say, I was successful and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in History. However, there were plenty of setbacks along the way – I became an empty-nester, my dad died, and I got divorced.  If I had been able to see into the future when I decided to return to school, would I have pursued my degree as passionately as I did or would I have given in to fear and doubt? I am glad I pursued my degree – it is what kept me going through all those changes.

Oftentimes the future can be frightening. As a divorced person, will I grow old alone? As a single once again, will I have enough money to retire comfortably? If I get sick as I get older, will my children take care of me? What does my future hold now that my present has changed so drastically? Luckily, I met Cycle Dude not long after my divorce. My future doesn’t look as frightening now that I have someone to share it with.

However, that doesn’t always happen. We don’t always find someone to share the rest of our lives with and we have to tough it out alone. My best friend is retired. She divorced years ago, but she has great children who live close by and keep an eye on her. I know they will be there to make sure her future is secure.

If you are alone as you look into the future, there are some things you can do to make sure that future is not so frightening:

  1. Get your finances in order: Take advantage of community workshops offered through the YMCA, the local senior center, your church or the library. Most of the time these workshops are free. You can also visit your bank to get some good financial advice.
  2. Get your health insurance in order: If you plan to retire soon, make sure you know what kind of health insurance plan you are eligible for. From talking to some retired friends, it seems that health insurance for retirees is a complicated thing. Prior to retiring, make sure you talk to someone in HR who will help you navigate through the insurance maze.
  3. Get rid of the junk: I have been to many estate sales. I am always amazed at the amount of stuff people have that held value only for them. Do your children a favor and clean out the junk before you die so they don’t have to do it after you die. They’ll thank you.
  4. Get out of your shell: Life is depressing when you feel like you don’t have a purpose. Get off your duff and get out there! Volunteer – there are so many opportunities in your community to volunteer with children, animals, the elderly, etc. There are always businesses looking for retirees to add to their payroll because of their expertise, their experience, etc.
  5. Get a hobby: Do you sew, knit, craft, build, etc? Put that skill to use in your community.

The future can be frightening because it is an unknown. Work with what you know now, in the present, so you can face the future with more confidence. Stay tuned. . . .



Learning to Walk

I am so excited that I get to see my grandbaby over Easter. I am flying to where my son lives and will spend Easter weekend with him, my daughter-in-law and my grandbaby. My sister also lives in the area, so I will spend time with her and her family as well. The fun thing about having a grandbaby is watching her grow and watching my son and his wife marvel as she reaches her developmental milestones. One of these days, my grandbaby will learn to walk. (Not quite yet, though. She was born in at the end of 2017.)

Learning to walk is a huge milestone for a child. There is so much involved – balance, gross motor skills, muscular and skeletal development, hand-eye coordination, etc. Learning to walk is no small feet (misspelling and pun intended!). Many adults have had to learn to walk again, too. They have had to progress from that infant-like state as well. One must learn to stand before one can walk. And one must learn to walk before one can run. There’s no skipping the proper physiological progression.

Life can  be difficult after a traumatic experience – divorce, an accident, etc. It is tempting to want to curl up in a ball and hide under the covers. We all know that’s not practical. In order to move forward in our lives, to heal and become stronger, we must learn to walk again. What does that look like?

1. Don’t be afraid: When a child is afraid to walk, she will sit down and cry. A child who is eager to walk will pull herself up and walk around the coffee table, then walk as you hold her hands, then she’ll walk to you and then with you. Yes, she will fall, but she keeps trying. Fear kills dreams, adventure and even life. Fear not. Move forward.

2. Don’t look back: The past is the past for a reason – because it’s done and over with. Look forward. Set and achieve goals. Dream big dreams. Laugh at your own silly jokes. Experience the freedom that comes with moving forward.

3. Don’t dwell on it: Whatever “it” is – a divorce, an accident, a death – let it go. We will grieve for that which is lost, but the grief cannot and should not last forever. Grief, despair, depression, anger and bitterness – these are all soul-destroyers. Don’t let the negative emotions and thoughts destroy you. If you are stuck here, seek out professional help.

4. Do stop and take a deep breath: Trauma – whatever it is – saps your energy. From days spent in court to days spent in the hospital or in counseling – you feel drained. Stop. Take a deep breath and know that you will be okay. Give yourself the grace and the time to heal – to renew your energy.

5. Do have a grateful heart: There is always something to be grateful for. Your support group, the medical personnel, your friends – these are all the ‘scaffolding’, if you will, who held you together during the trauma. Be grateful for them. Be grateful for your life.

Sometimes, it hurts to walk. Your muscles may be sore. You may have a misshapen limb. You may have fallen and bruised your knee. Walking is a milestone in your healing journey. It represents months of hard work. Soon, you will be running and will never look back. Life is an adventure! Live it! Stay tuned. . . .


Do Nothing

From December 28 to February 2, I seemed to do nothing but cough. Three weeks into whatever I had I was finally diagnosed with a sinus infection. However, the cough is still lingering. I coughed so hard for a month that I pulled muscles I never knew I had. For six weeks I basically did nothing when I got home from work. My weekends were spent vegging on the couch. I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I did nothing. It took that long for my body to heal from that nasty virus. (And yes, I was taking vitamins, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy.) For some reason, that virus took hold and didn’t want to let go!

Sometimes, it’s okay to just do nothing. When you’re sick, the best thing is rest and fluids. God created our bodies (if they are relatively healthy) to heal themselves. Those Green Beret white blood cells are truly strong little soldiers! Rest does incredible things for our bodies. Sleep allows healing to occur. I am not a scientist, but I observe.

We can also become mentally sick – depressed. I was depressed for a long time before, during and after my divorce. I went to see my doctor and was prescribed antidepressants. It’s okay to be on medication in order to feel better. If you have pneumonia, you get antibiotics to make you feel better, to heal. Antidepressants help in the same way – they allow you to heal.

I’ve had days when I did absolutely nothing. I was depressed, or tired, or battle weary from the divorce. I felt alone, abandoned, and sad. It was okay to do nothing.  When I rested, I healed. The peace and quiet I found after my divorce helped me to heal.

One cannot expect to be healthy, to be up and running full speed when one has just experienced a traumatic event like a divorce. Give yourself permission to veg, to do nothing. Allow yourself to heal. If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will? Be kind to yourself. Stay tuned. . . .

Unexpected Sinkholes

Normally, I don’t post twice in one day, but . . . . it seems I’ve done that quite frequently! I live in a part of the country known for its karst topography, or the numerous limestone caves. Limestone is a sedimentary rock. Millions of years ago, this part of the country was underwater, which accounts for the limestone. Limestone is made out of the shells of sea creatures which contain calcium carbonate. As rainwater falls, it picks up carbon dioxide and forms a weak carbonic acid. This acid eats away at the limestone, producing caves and sinkholes. Some sinkholes are harmless, but others cause quite a bit of destruction (Google ‘sinkholes’ and you’ll see the recent ones in Florida as well as the giant one in Guatamala City several years ago).

We got word today after lunch that our grounds manager discovered a sinkhole. Luckily, it is not as big as one we had a couple of months ago that closed several lanes on the freeway. We’ll see if this one expands or if it is fixable in its current state. We should have expected this because of all the rain this part of the country had over the last weekend.

Whether you are divorced or not, you will run across sinkholes in your life – things that threaten to shut down or sideline your forward progress – illness, financial problems, job issues, relational difficulties. When the sinkhole at Myjob was discovered, we called out the appropriate personnel – the Department of Transportation, the utility provider, and the management at Myjob. Each person has their own sphere of responsibility in resolving the sinkhole issue.

When you face a sinkhole in your life, call out the appropriate personnel or experts to help you shore up that weakness: illness – seek medical help or professional help if you have mental issues; financial – seek out your banker and sit down with them to determine your best course of action; job issues – talk to your boss or someone in your Human Resources Department; relational difficulties – speak to a counselor who specializes in relationship issues. And pray, asking God for wisdom in dealing with the sinkhole. The sinkhole is not permanent, but if you don’t deal with it when you first notice it, it will only get bigger and cost more to fix. Dear one, give yourself grace as you deal with the sinkholes in your life. They are a learning experience. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .


Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions – Weight Loss

The majority of New Year’s resolutions seem to be about weight loss and getting in shape. There are only five things you need to know about weight loss: expectations, portions, sugar, exercise and rewards. Remember that when setting a resolution or goal, you must give yourself the grace to fail, because you will fail. Failure is not a bad thing – it means you are moving toward that goal. Failure means you step back and reassess, then resolve to move forward. Don’t allow failure to pull the plug on your resolutions. Remember that those who do not try, do not fail. They are not growing and becoming better people.

1. Expectations: You have to set realistic expectations for yourself. You alone know your limits, what you are capable of and how far you can push yourself. (Please consult your doctor if you have major health issues.) Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds a month unless you are starving yourself. Start out small, like losing 2 pounds a month. That may be more within you ability to do. It is a more realistic goal to achieve. When you achieve that goal, you will feel better and more motivated to continue to lose weight.

2. Portions: Next time you go to a restaurant, look at the portion you are given. Most often, the portion you receive could easily feed a family of four in a developing country for several days. Many of us were raised by mothers who told us to, “Eat everything on your plate”. That old adage is strongly ingrained in us. However, it’s better not to eat everything on your plate. Request a to go box and have the leftovers the next day for lunch. When you are eating at home, begin by cutting your portion by one-third. For example, if you have a big spoonful of mashed potatoes, take a smaller spoonful – don’t make it heaping. If you have a sandwich, cut one piece of bread in half and have half a sandwich. Another good rule for portions is what I like to call “the handful rule”. For most people, a handful is about one-half to one-third of a cup. If you must have chips with your sandwich, have a handful – and don’t make it heaping. If you still feel hungry after eating a smaller portion, grab an apple, a handful of baby carrots, an orange, or a handful of nuts. These foods are high in fiber and fiber makes you feel fuller. They are also healthier choices than another handful of chips.

3. Sugar: Studies have shown that refined sugar is one of the worst things in the American diet. Americans have developed an addiction to sugar. Slowly wean yourself from refined sugar. If you must use sugar, use the organic kind (Sugar in the Raw) or a sugar substitute like Stevia. Pay attention to your portion of sugar. Become a label reader when you are grocery shopping. Take notice of the number of grams of sugar and salt (another belly buster) in the food. Go for the low salt, low sugar foods. It’s better to use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables because they aren’t as processed and have less sugar and salt. If you are drinking soda, stop it NOW! Carbonated beverages, whether regular or diet, are high in sugar and other unhealthy additives. Again, work in bite-sized pieces. Start by cutting out one soda or one glass of sweet tea a day and replacing with an 8-12 ounce glass of water. Then continue to decrease your sugary drinks by two a day, etc. For many people, cutting sugar out of their diets is akin to getting off drugs. You will go through withdrawal and may even have strange dreams.

4. Exercise: If you have not exercised regularly for some time, don’t jump back into the gym thinking you’ll be Hercules in no time! There’s no way you’ll be able to keep that resolution. Start out small and slow until you’re used to exercising again. My boss likes to say, “We’re gonna eat this elephant one bite at a time”. The cheapest, easiest and lowest impact form of exercise is walking. If you live in an area with extreme weather, walk at an indoor mall. A friend of mine would walk in the parking garage close to her work during the hot summer months. All you need to invest in for walking is a good pair of walking shoes and some padded socks. It’s great if you also have an iPhone with a cardio playlist or a friend with whom to walk. I walk with my dogs. Again, don’t start out by trying to walk across the US. Walk for 10 to 15 minutes daily. Then increase that to 30 minutes a day. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise for at least three times a week is very beneficial for your physical and mental health. Another relatively low impact exercise is stairclimbing. I’m not talking about running up and down several flights of stairs a day, but taking the stairs instead of the elevator if you need to go up only a couple of floors. As always, take it slow and in small steps.

5. Rewards: Behavior modification based on a rewards system has been around forever. In order to keep up your motivation for achieving your goals and keeping your resolutions, you may want to investigate a personal reward system. This personal reward system should not be based on food or money. Both of those would undermine the goals and resolutions you have set. There are several different reward systems I use: When achieving a goal of saving money, I reward myself with a walk in the park on a beautiful day. Of course, I take my pups along and we kill two birds with one stone – reward and exercise. When I lose weight, I reward myself by downloading a book or movie from my local library. I save money and I am patronizing a great organization in my community.

Make weight loss a habit. As you get stronger, increase your walking time, go to the gym, and make healthier food choices. This is a learning process-give yourself grace. Good luck as you move forward into 2017 and your weight loss goals! Stay tuned . . .


Stand and Stretch

Several months ago, I got a standing desk at work. It is desk addition that I put my monitors, keyboard and mouse on. I grasp it by the handles and pull it up when I want to stand and work. To date, I have recommended this desk at least 75 times (I should get a cut of the sales from the company!). The nice thing about the standing desk is that I am able to stand and stretch throughout the day. I recently read that is better for your health to stand and stretch during the day rather than sit in a chair all day. Stretching works your muscles, is good for your circulation and improves your mood.

Fitness enthusiasts also advocate stretching out before a physical activity. It warms up your muscles and prepares them to use. Gently stretching is one way to help prevent injury during physical activity. It is also good to stretch your mental muscles. Healthcare experts have found that keeping your mind engaged in critical thinking activities may stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s.

What about stretching your emotional muscles? As I was going through a divorce, I felt as if my heart and soul were being stretched beyond their capacity to rebound. I thought surely my emotions would look like a rubber band that has been stretched beyond capacity – limp, lifeless and useless. I think for many people, their emotions get stretched beyond capacity. I believe PTSD is a warning sign that you’re getting close to capacity. How do you prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond their capacity to rebound? What do you do if they are?

1. Talk about it: One of the best ways to prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond capacity is to talk about what you’re feeling. Find a trusted friend, make an appointment with your clergyman, or seek professional help. Don’t wait until you feel like you want to ‘go postal’. Address your emotions quickly. I have found that giving breath to my thoughts decreases their power over me.

2. Find a support group: If you try one support group and you find it doesn’t suit your needs, find another. I belong to a small group at my church. Twice a month, I have the ladies in my group over to my house for dinner and fellowship. We’ve gotten into conversations about parenting, marriage, momming. It helps to talk about your experiences.

3. Don’t isolate yourself: You may think, “No one knows how I feel. No one cares.” Hogwash! You are more vulnerable when you are alone. My mom always said, “There is safety in numbers”. Find that support group or talk to a friend.

4. Journal: Write about what’s going on in your head, in your life. You can journal as often as you want. You don’t need to be eloquent or be a good speller. This writing is for YOU. Like giving breath to your thoughts, giving words to them also decreases their power. Sometimes, it helps to see what you’re thinking.

5. Take it one step at a time: You didn’t get here overnight, so don’t expect to feel better overnight. This is why it’s so important to get professional help. You need someone who can walk with you through the small steps of healing, especially if your emotions have been stretched beyond capacity. I recommend Beyond Divorce with Jennine Lee ( I have read her book and it helped.

Know that you are not in this alone – whether it’s a divorce, loss of a loved one, eating disorder, etc. Please do not hesitate to reach out to someone who will walk with you through this time in your life. Don’t just sit there, stand and do something! Walk toward healing so your emotions don’t get stretched beyond capacity! Stay tuned . . . .