Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Meditation and Willpower

Any who keeps an eye on this blog knows it’s been hard for me to lose weight. I climb on the ladder, off the ladder. I’ve struggled to stick to any significant lifestyle changes long-term, which means, I think, that I need to get inside my own head, either to figure out why I struggle or to shore up my sagging willpower.

So I’m about to try a new thing (for me) to try to focus myself more. Meditation. By the way, every time I type meditation, it comes out medication. Is that a Freudian slip? Lol. So, anyhow, I’ve been doing some reading about a couple of meditation (yep, had to correct the typing again!) techniques. One is called Five Good Minutes by Jeffrey Brantley, MD and Wendy Millstine. It’s a morning practice of attention (breathing mindfully), intention (decide on your needs/intent for this meditation), and acting wholeheartedly (embrace that intent completely).

The other one is a 4 part meditation technique I got from mindbodygreen.com where you spend five or so minutes on each of four different meditations.

  • Gratitude – focus on the blessings in your life.
  • Dedication – Pay it forward by focusing on someone you know who is struggling, visualizing good intentions for them.
  • Affirmation – Choose a quality you would like to strengthen in yourself and plug it into    this sentence:  “I am                               .” Like, I  am healthy, or I am filled with willpower. Recite the sentence over and over again.
  • Repetition – Repeat that one chosen quality from the last medication. Just one word.  Over and over again.

These are the two I’m thinking of trying, although the morning one probably won’t be very often. My mornings start out helping Mom. By the time I’m done with that, I’m so focused on my day, I dive right in. But doing the 20 minute one, say just before starting dinner, might be helpful, since it seems to be from about 4pm onward that I lose all willpower.

So here’s my question. Do you meditate? Do you have any particular meditations that are helpful to you? I’m looking for hints and tips to help sustain this practice and keep it going.

Thanks! I hope everyone who celebrates Independence Day July 4th had a safe and happy one, filled with family, friends, and laughter!

Rain or Shine, the Beach is Always Fun

The weather is warming up again here in the Pacific Northwest after a couple weeks of gray. We had an abnormally warm March and April, which means that the snow pack that recovered this year (from 19% of normal last year) is melting too quickly and we may yet again be in a water shortage situation this summer. I have to say, these past couple of years have held some of the strangest local weather I’ve seen in my XX years here.:)

However, as true PNWers, we didn’t wait for the sunshine, opting to head for the coast the weekend before Memorial Day for some rest and relaxation. I am a true believer that, rain or shine, life is always better at the beach. And we got very lucky, renting a home just steps up from sand, with awesome views of the tidal changes and sunsets.

It was a weekend with our youngest daughter and her family and one of the most relaxing I’ve ever had. We streamlined the food so very little cooking was done. I walked on the beach several times each day.

And my husband and I became miniature rock hounds. I’m working on some research for a story and runes are an integral part of it, so when we started finding these small, flat, round stones, I realized I had an opportunity to make my own set of runes for inspiration while I’m writing the story (or stories, as I hope to turn it into a series.)

But the highlight of the weekend was our six-year-old granddaughter. Since they live further away, I don’t get to see her often, except for our weekly Skype visits. Her curiosity and her ability to reason things out continues to astound me. And smart? Whew! She’s reading well above her level and her math skills are strong. I couldn’t trip her up on math addition into the 100’s. When we played checkers, she almost beat me…and that was only her second game!

The beach always, always rejuvenates me and this weekend was no exception. I think, if I could live at the beach year round, I probably would. But I wonder if it would seem as special to me as it does now?

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Family Memories

Happy day after Mother’s Day! I hope all the mother’s who read this had a day full of smiles and pampering.

Most of you know that my mother moved in with us in January. It didn’t take long for us to realize it was time for her to not live on her own anymore. So, with her blessing around the first of February, we began sorting through items in her house. We were lucky because our niece wanted to move in, which meant we didn’t have to talk about selling it. Everyone in the family knows how hard that would have been for Mom.

So the process of sorting through and clearing out 40 years of accumulation began. It quickly became a reason to gather. Mom loved being in the center of things as work progressed, loved the camaraderie as we found beloved items from our childhood. This may seem a bit silly, but we got sentimental over a meat grinder. Mom always made the most awesome homemade minced ham sandwiches.:)

There was a calendar from our childhood with the dishwashing schedule. Trust me, with five kids constantly arguing it wasn’t THEIR night to do dishes, those calendars were a must for Mom’s sanity.

We found our beloved step-father’s well-used fishing hat. He passed away in 1993 and we all still miss him. P1110712

One of the most amazing finds was newspapers saved from when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when armistice was called, when J.F. Kennedy was shot. Those are now in archival packaging in the hopes we can preserve them.

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We also brought bin after bin of paperwork and pictures out to the house for Mom to sort at her leisure. She’s been doggedly going through it all and is down to about 10 photo albums. She kept hospital bills from when my sisters were born. I’ll post a pic of one of them here because, well, the cost of hospitalization for 5 days back then was a LOT less than these days.Hospbill

So now, my niece and her husband are ensconced in Mom’s home for the last 40 years, with her happy blessing. And we’ve had an amazing journey these past couple of months. We’ve laughed and cried over pictures and memories of events. And we all feel so blessed that Mom could be here to share it with us.

Something that could easily have been depressing turned out to be an awesome experience for all.

Have an awesome week, everyone!

Laurie

Welcome, Baby Hazel

I missed my blog on the 8th, so I’ll talk here about what I meant to then. It’s been a worrisome time these past few months and now I can finally explain why.

First, I need to explain something. A few years ago, my sister was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden. This is a hereditary disorder that results in something called thrombophilia, or an increased tendency to form abnormal blood clots. Not good. Anyhow, for her, since she doesn’t have any mitigating factors, they’ll just keep an eye on it and it will be something they’ll have to take precautions with when having surgery.

I recently got tested and thankfully, was negative for this disorder. Three of my nieces were not so lucky. In fact, a couple of them have already had to deal with clots in the legs. Neither of them are even 35 years old yet, by the way.

So, now to talk about the 32 year old niece, who happily got pregnant with her second child. The pregnancy went great until the 7th month, when my niece had a major heart attack. Yep, that tendency to clot…did. It was a very scary time. The final two months of her pregnancy were micro-managed, as was her delivery. She had to give herself heparin shots twice a day and was on meds to manage the clotting factor. She had to be careful. Live life normally, but not over-exert.

And finally, on March 22nd, at a specialty hospital and with a whole lot of personnel in the room, my niece gave birth to our newest family member – Hazel Elyse. They induced and managed the delivery with minimal stress to my niece or to her daughter. And four days later, they were home and introducing Hazel to her four-year-old brother.

So all’s well that ends well, but we were saying a LOT of prayers for those two months. If you’d like to read more about Factor V Leiden, you can do so here. And to finish out on a positive note, here’s some pictures of baby Hazel, including a proud Great-Gramma (my Mom) and one with my brother, a proud, proud Grampa, and rightfully so.:)

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Gallery

Does this recipe work for me? I’m not sure…

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With Mom living here with us now, I comb the internet and my recipe books for low salt alternatives to change up our lunch and dinner menus a bit. I found a low-salt chicken pot pie recipe and tried it. … Continue reading

I <3 Caribbean Cruises!

Running late today, which is unusual for me. And it generally means my calendar is way too full. My morning started with a couple fillings at the dentist, something I angst over big time, even though I have no reason to. I guess anxiety doesn’t care about logic, eh?

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. I thought I’d share some pictures of our recent cruise to the Bahamas. We had good, but not great weather. The temperature was in the 65-75 degree Fahrenheit range. Not really warm by Caribbean standards but warm for us Pacific Northwesters. And it was windy enough that we couldn’t snorkel and one of our ports of call had to be cancelled because they couldn’t tender us in to shore from the ship. But the wind also kept those pesky mosquitoes at bay. So a good thing, in our estimation.

It still managed to be one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever had. We watched 4 hit movies, including The Martian which I LOVED. I read four books! I haven’t had much time to read recreationally lately so that was awesome. I swam in the on board pool and laid out in the sun. And we even managed to go ashore in a couple places. So lots of relaxing made for an awesome trip.

Of course, being back home meant diving back into a too-busy routine, but the R&R time reset my brain and heart so it’s all easier to handle for the moment. 

Here’s some pics from our week away. I hope you all get some time to relax and rejuvenate soon, if you haven’t already!

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Leaping in…

When I saw the Leap Day 2016 was available to blog on I, well, leaped at the chance. I’m not sure why, but it sounded like fun.

Today, blogs all over the ‘net will be spouting facts and superstitions about Leap Day and Leap Year, I’m sure. And rather than buck the system, I think I’ll join it.

Leap Day was added every fourth year to keep our calendar aligned with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. From what I read, it takes the Earth about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to circle once around the Sun. That time differential has to be made up somewhere so they added the day to the shortest month of the year.

  • Lord Byron (poet) was born on Leap Day.
  • There are about 4 million people with Leap Day birthdays and the chances of being born on Leap Day are about 1 in 1,461.
  • People born on Leap Day are said by astrologers to have special or unusual talents.
  • It’s also, since most of us write romance, the day that for centuries, women have been encouraged to propose to men. I read where this started back in the 5th century, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose. So he set aside February 29th, allowing women to pop the question on that day.

This continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that women could propose to men on February 29th. Even the more modern American Sadie Hawkins Day tradition has become synonymous with Leap Day.

And finally, the poem that helps keep us all straight. I found there are several renditions of this poem, so I’ll post the one I grew up with:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February, which has twenty-eight.
And in leap year twenty-nine.

Happy Leap Day, everyone!