I’m Free! Free Falling!

Well, I must say I am going back and forth with my Self-care at the moment. I have a lot of work coming in and coming due, which is a good problem to have! I found a great app called 30/30 that lets me set blocks of time for work and breaks. And then there’s the day I went skydiving.

Yep. You heard me. I faced my long-standing fear and jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 feet, falling at 125mph breakneck toward the ground. And, as most things we fear, the anticipation and “what if” thoughts were WAY worse than the thing itself!

Phil, my tandem instructor, and me
Phil, my tandem instructor, and me

I thought I would go when I turned 40, almost 3 years ago. Nope. Chickened out. So, when a friend of mine got accepted into the Police Academy (with a full ride scholarship), something she’s wanted her whole life, I told her to pick something to do…my treat. I knew she didn’t drink or like to go to clubs, so I figured maybe a nice movie or dinner at a nicer place. Nope. Wrong again! SKYDIVING, she said.

Suited up!
Suited up!

I panicked at first, but then thought that there was no better time to do this – she had been a few times already and liked the place that we went. I got brave and said, “JUST DO IT!”

And I’m so glad I did! I was terrified at the open door of the plane, looking out, but Phil, who was tightly strapped to me, wasn’t going to let me stand in the way of my goal. He pushed forward and I was falling! I only had that yucky-stomach falling feeling for 2 or 3 seconds, then it was like I was on top of a giant fan! After we pulled the canopy, all of Nature’s beauty was sprawled out in front of us to enjoy. The fall only took about 60 seconds, but it seemed longer because I was so in the moment.

logo100I highly recommend this activity, as long as the place you go has qualified, knowledgeable instructors and and outstanding safety record. We visited Westside Skydivers in Sealy, TX, which is about an hour’s drive. There were closer places, but my friend had experience with Westside, so I didn’t mind the drive. My instructors, Bob and Phil, and my cameraman, Nate, were all wonderful and knew how to put me at ease! Thanks, guys! And yes, I’m going again!!

Woman Plans; the Universe Enhances

Like most of us, I keep a calendar to make sure that I am aware of my daily appointments and things to do. However, on more days than not, my day ends up looking a lot different than my calendar! The opportunities that the Universe presents are abundant if I just keep my eyes open.

I am active in our local Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, so I am often up at the Police Department, helping them out with whatever I can. Yesterday, I was up there installing a new computer for our association to use (the old one still had a 3.5″ floppy disk drive in it!). My plans were to visit with a friend afterward.

I was finishing up when an officer came in to the workroom and asked the volunteers present if anyone could help him out with a CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) class that he was teaching that day. He needed two people to role-play mentally ill folks in crisis so that the trainees could practice what they had learned. I called my friend, who was happy to come up and help, and so we ended up helping to train local police officers on how to deal with the mentally ill!

Not only was this a great opportunity to assist the police department, but also a chance to speak up about the stigma of mental illness and give feedback about how we, in the role of someone in a mental crisis, felt we were treated by the officers. The scenario I chose to play out was one of a severely depressed and suicidal new mother. Basically, I was re-visiting my past and got to see what might have happened had my crisis gotten so bad that my husband had called the police.

Being trained police officers, all of the trainees, save one female officer, were lacking empathy and ended up escalating my anger with their approaches rather than making me feel like cooperating. After the role-play, we did a de-briefing in which I got to tell them about how I felt about what they said and did. Only one team even picked up on the fact that not only was I suicidal, but that I had a plan (I kept asking for the time because my “plan” was to walk out into rush hour traffic). It was a wonderful opportunity to educate the officers about subtle clues and essential questions to ask should they come across a woman in that situation.

I left feeling great that not only had I assisted the police department in general, but also educated the class about postpartum depression! My schedule just “happened” to be open that afternoon, allowing me to participate. The Universe does things like that all the time…we just have to pay attention! So, keep your eyes and ears open, evaluate each opportunity that presents itself, and act on the ones that your intuition says “yes” to!



Diane’s video reminded me of one I first saw years ago, before TJ Thyne became famous for his role in Bones. It’s not what I expected, and that’s what’s so great about it. It’s a little over 15 minutes long, but I hope you take these moments for yourself and watch the whole thing. And then maybe pass it on… Namaste.

SNOWPOCALYPSE 2014: Humor for Stress Relief

For those of you who didn’t know, I live in the Houston, Texas area. The recent “polar vortices,” or SNOWPOCALYPSE, as the satire sites call it, have us Texans all in a bother.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there are many of us who take the cold rather well. But there are also many folks who get goosebumps once the temperature drops below 70F! Add “wintry mix” in the form of sleet, ice, and snow flurries and people down here lose their minds. School districts shut down (which is actually needed, as many buses have to drive on overpasses to get the kids to the schools, which is obviously dangerous when they are iced over), people stay home from work and the streets and freeways look like ghost paths.

Humor is a great way to combat depression and laughter actually helps relieve stress, as it produces hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins, which are our natural feel-good body chemicals. With that statement, here are some chuckles for you from various sites that poke fun at us Texans when the cold weather hits (and unfortunately, many of these ring true):


Picture humor:

I had volunteered to work with the Police Department at our city’s annual Winterfest on January 25. I had to report to my station at 8:30am and temperatures were still in the low 30’s, even though it was sunny (and it eventually warmed up nicely). To keep warm, I had a sweater under a fleece hoodie, with a hat under that, gloves and thermals under my jeans. I was told I looked like the Unabomber! The redness under my nose was caused by me constantly blowing it. Yes, even I am not immune to the horror of sub-40 degree temps! 🙂

Some Inspiration for Your Weekend

The History of Halloween

Many people go trick-or-treating, watch scary movies or go to parties on Halloween, often dressed up as their favorite alter egos. But does anyone really know the origin of Halloween? Most folks don’t think about it; they concentrate on the costumes, candy and fun!

It is believed that modern Halloween evolved from an ancient Celtic festival of the dead, called Samhain (pronounced sah-WEEN), which was actually held on November 1 each year. The night before this event, on October 31, the Celts would sacrifice fruits and vegetables to ward off the dead, who were believed to be mingling with the living in greater quantities on this particular evening. They would dress up as spirits to help keep the traveling ghosts moving.

As the Catholics moved into the area, they wiped out many Pagan holidays, including Samhain, in hopes that the Pagans would convert to the church. Pope Gregory III established November 1 as All Saints Day, a day to honor all Christian Saints that did not already have an observance day. Some of the people that had celebrated Samhain quietly kept it going on the day after All Saints Day. Finally, in the 9th century, the Catholics made November 2 All Souls Day, essentially squashing what was left of Samhain.

All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows, (“hallowed” meaning “holy”) provided a forum for the believers of Samhain to continue to focus on the “wandering dead” the night before, dubbed All Hallows Eve by the Catholics. Over time, this night transformed into the focus on evil supernatural beings, though this was not the original purpose of the holiday. Participants still put out food and drink to offer to the spirits and often emulated them by costuming themselves in what they believed to be the spirits’ images.

The name “Halloween” comes from an evolution of the name All Hallows Eve, which was eventually called Hallows Evening or Hallowe’en for short. As Hallowe’en had originally been the name of the ancient Celtic New Year’s Day before the Christians arrived, it was an unwitting hat tip to the Pagans.

These days, Halloween is a night for adults and kids alike to dress up and be someone (or something) else for the evening.The tradition of handing out candy is actually a long-evolved version of the Pagan food sacrifices to the spirits. So, next time trick-or-treaters ring the doorbell, think about the long and deep history that built Halloween.

Article courtesy of The Silvercreek Tribune

Instant BFFs: Is it Possible?

Have you ever encountered someone that you’ve never met before, but it seems like you’ve known them forever? Someone that you knew within the first 5 minutes of talking to him/her that you want to be in his/her life (in friendship or romantic relationship)? If you have, you know how rare that is. If you haven’t, let me tell you about it!

Recently, I was on a writing assignment and went to interview my source for the story. The interview went very well and we were both professional. After the “official” work was over, this young lady and I sat around talking about this and that; it was surface chit-chat, but I felt as if I could tell her my deepest secrets – and I had only just met her!

It turns out that she had experienced the same phenomenon with me, and we found ourselves contacting each other to find ways to hang out. She’s a volunteer with a local animal charity, so I signed up too. I have made time to help out on 2 occasions so far, and while I enjoy working with the animals and people, it is nice to have extra time with my new friend!

If one of us is not feeling well, the other will offer (and mean it) to cook chicken soup or go to the store for remedies. If one of us is having a crisis, we instinctively contact each other. Keep in mind that I have known this woman for less than a month.

Somehow, I just know that I can trust her and that I can count on her. I also know that I feel a deep loyalty to her and will make myself available whenever I am able when she needs something. How can someone I just met feel like a best friend? How can such a short relationship feel like it’s taken years to build and cultivate?

I firmly believe that people are put in our lives for a reason: to teach us lessons, to see us through a crisis or victory, to be there when we need them. My “new” friend and I joke that we are long-lost sisters, but I know without a doubt that she is supposed to be in my life and I am grateful to have found her!

A New Look at Exercise

I was shopping recently at a big box outlet, and they had already placed Christmas merchandise on sale. I could hear good ‘ol Charlie Brown saying,”Good grief!”

The reality is, Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner. Soon we’ll be flooded with commercials about New Year’s Resolutions, including our need to exercise.

Why can’t we keep our exercise resolutions? Excessive office hours? Overbooked family schedules? Regardless of the reason, let me share with you the exercise framework I’ve used to manage my low- back pain for the last 20 years. Hopefully you can tailor it for yourself.

First, create achievable goals. Start small. If you can only go for a brisk walk for 20 minutes for 3 days a week, start there. It’s better to create achievable goals, and celebrate your accomplishments. Expand your exercise program later.

Next, choose exercise that’s fun. If you hate distance running, don’t do it. Be creative; try new forms of exercise. If you try something new and don’t like it, don’t get discouraged – move on. The key here is to have fun and remain active..regularly.

Ok, so you’ve set achievable goals for fun, regularly scheduled exercise. Anything else? One last suggestion: you need the right motivation. You’re probably asking, “What does that mean?”

I define the right motivation as “a goal beyond one’s own self with accountability.” For me, my motivation is coaching my sons’ soccer teams. Seems basic enough, right? So how can this be a right motivation? First, this is quality time I spend with my sons. Second, coaching soccer requires me to keep my lower back healthy so I can demonstrate the game. So I have a motivation that is beyond one’s own self (my sons’ happiness) and has accountability, requiring me to keep my lower back healthy. This is the right motivation I need to help me exercise when I’ve had a long day and would rather relax in front of the TV.

I hope this helps. By the way, why wait for the New Year? Get exercising…right now!

Today’s guest blogger is Christian Miles, CPT, CPA, MBA. He is the President of the Global Exercise Group – an Internet based exercise education company focused on helping individuals suffering from lower-back pain by using a holistic approach. He can be reached at any of the following:

Website: www.globalexercisegroup.com
Email: info@globalexercisegroup.com
Twitter: @globalexercise

Sex: Why We Love It and Why It’s Okay

Sex: it’s everywhere! From slacks to soda, the concept of sex is used in print, Internet and TV ads more than any other theme of everyday life. What’s so alluring about the idea of sex and sexy things that draws us to it like moths to a flame?

That is not a simple question to answer, unfortunately. There are so many factors that tie in with the concept of sexuality, there’s no one that can be identified. However, since sex is something all humans have in common, whether it’s the act or the urge to act, just about everyone can relate to the general concept. And when people relate to something, they are more likely to buy it or support it.

There’s also the allure of the “forbidden fruit” or taboo aspect. Humans want things that are considered no-no’s by society. We want to feel individualized and rebellious. Even though sex is way more widely visible in today’s world than it was even 10 years ago, there’s still a stigma attached to it. Sex is something people do behind closed doors; it’s secret. That’s another reason we react the way we do.

In this heat wave, many people are choosing to stay inside in the air conditioning. And, as in the wintertime, when folks are thrown together in such close company, many are heating up the bedroom. Sex is an important part of self-care, as it relieves stress, releases our natural painkillers (called endorphins), and generally elevates our mood. So no matter the reason you find yourself drawn to the concept of sex, keep in mind that it’s part of healthy self-care; and therefore, you are not a pervert for thinking about it!

Happy heat wave!

Self-Care During the Heat Wave

Temperatures have been breaking records all over the country due to the extreme heat. Not only is it uncomfortable, but triple-digit temperatures can be the cause of illness and even death if you don’t take care of yourself!

Some self-care techniques may seem obvious when you step outside and immediately start sweating. Stay inside where there’s air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and, if you do have to be outside for more than 15 minutes, wear at leastSun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous sunburns and seek out shady spots and take breaks often. However, there are some facts about self-care in the heat that many are not aware of.

Pools are popular places for residents to go for relief from the heat. The cool water masks the fact that you are still most likely sweating. Also, the pool water can actually focus ultraviolet (UV) rays on to your skin in a more extreme manner than if you were out of the water. So if you think you have less of a chance of getting burned in the pool, think again. Don’t pass up that SPF 30 or greater sunscreen, and apply it often – about every 30 minutes. This also applies to visits to the beach or a lake!

Cloudy, breezy days also seem to encourage folks to come outside. Many people believe that since it is cloudy, their risk for sunburn is diminished. Unfortunately, UV rays easily penetrate even the thickest cloud cover can can burn skin just as quickly as they would on a clear day.

It is true that the best times of the day to be outside in weather like this is in the mornings before 10 a.m. or in the afternoons after 4 p.m. The sun is not high in the sky during these times and UV rays are not as harsh. However, if you are required to be outside for over one hour during the heat of the day, wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat will give you the greatest protection. It sounds backwards, but the clothing will protect your skin and will also help absorb moisture from sweat. In this case, it is essential to stop and drink water every 10 – 15 minutes to lessen the chances of experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It used to be common thought that sugar and caffeine found in sodas and other drinks actually dehydrated the body, but this has been found to be false. However, experts still agree that water is the best option for hydration in temperatures this hot.

It looks like the heat is here to stay for a while, but using the self-care tips outlined above, you and your family can navigate the summer free of sunburns and heat illness.