Sunday, January 29, 2012

Balance Tip O' The Week

The key to keeping your balance
is knowing when you've lost it. Anonymous

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My day started with a modern-day public flogging, or so it felt. Driving back from dropping off the carpool my husband called. I answered and we chatted for a minute as I pulled into the neighborhood. I looked in my rear view mirror and flashing cop lights stared back at me. That sinking feeling (think Titanic) took over as I hung up on my husband mid-sentence. Police Dude walked over, asked for my license, and told me what I already knew; I was talking on the cell phone without a hands-free headset. Guilty as charged. I did not even try to talk or beg out of the damn ticket. Then my phone rang loudly. It was my husband calling back, wondering why I cut him off. I ignored the ring that felt like salt in a fresh wound. Cop Dude ignored it also as he took my license and registration, then waltzed back to his squad car.
The most difficult part of this 8am crisis? My neighborhood was alive with energetic joggers, dog walkers, and cars. Each Mrs. Kravitz (remember that nosey neighbor from Bewitched?) looked at me with a pitiful glance. Even the dogs. It seemed that everyone I had ever met was out–and-about the minute I broke the law. My next-door neighbor, who was taking her kids to school, stopped by and curiously rolled down her window. When I arrived to work (late of course), a neighbor/co-worker was walking her students to class. She saw me and from across the hall in a louder-than-usual voice said slowly, “That. Wasn’t. You. Getting. Pulled …” I started to nod and confess before she could finish the sentence.  Farumph!

I realized that this situation is not “open-heart-surgery,” as we say in our house to help one find perspective on what is truly worth griping and worrying over. However, if I were to describe what it felt to have my pride and insides shake while waiting for THE ticket to be written (as my neighborhood watched) I can only describe it as a self-induced-well-deserved-modern-day flogging.

Word of the day? Bluetooth ;0)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three-hundred-seventy-four words about last week

Popping out of bed at 6:30 on a Saturday is never easy, but I had to do it because of a job requirement ... Gotta keep my CPR/First Aid certification current. Spending my Saturday at the local fire station with twenty-two coworkers, and two dozen rubber dummies with plastic-bag lungs, is where my day started. The American Heart Association is always changing the “how-to” of CPR, so it is good to know the latest and greatest technique; start with thirty chest compressions followed by two breaths and repeat until the real help arrives.  The take-away from this six hour class was how to correclty stop a bloody nose. Sit, press both sides o f the nostrils, and lean the person forward while applying constant pressure. Since I can remember, I have  had my students stand with their head back as "ick" drips down their throat. Sorry kids, my bad.

The downside of this class is that I missed my son’s basketball game and they won! He is playing in the  city league (The Bruins) and on his school team (The Lions). This basketball-palooza season equates to three games and three practices a week. Missing one should not be a big deal. But. They. Won!  So far, winning has rarely been witnessed for either team. Maybe this winning will turn into a streak? Dreams are free, so I will dream that they will turn down the road of win, win, win!

Speaking of turning down roads, Lucas is close to turning fifteen so it was  time to take him out to drive illegally in abandoned parking lots… just like my dad used to do!  I think Dad started me driving when I was thirteen and made me learn to drive on a stick shift. He insisted that my first car, a rolling-Ford-two-door-tin can, was a stick-shift too. This family tradition is stopping right here.

Where was I?

Oh, Yes! Lucas was out of school early last week due to finals and this presented the perfect opportunity to put him behind the wheel . The quote of the day occurred about ten minutes into our lesson.
Lucas, looking at me flustered said, “Flick This! Turn That! Look There! Driving is like one intense game of Bopit!”
So. True.
Enjoy your last full week of Janurary ;0)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Balance Tip O' The Week

In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.
-Brother David Steindl-Rast

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Kid at Heart

Last Saturday is tattooed in my memory.  Lucas was asked to be a guest speaker at a fundraiser titled “A Kid at Heart.” This Camp del Corazon benefit held at The Santa Barbara Carriage Museum was hosted by UCSB alumni and soccer player, Waid Ibrahim. Camp Del Corazon is a five-day camp on Catalina Island for children with heart disease and nothing makes Lucas happier than sharing the positive happenings that have rained down on him because of this amazing place.  Two bands played from the Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy and they were awesome! Dr. Kevin Shannon, the founder of this camp, spoke while guests indulged in Firestone wines and appetizers catered by Fresco CafĂ©.  Big Yum!

What a great surspise to see Lucas's cardiologist, Dr. Harake
When we attend these events, I sit in utter amazement at how God’s plan unfolded. Here is my kid (forever called Baby Lucas in my heart) who was close to being taken off life support when he was five months old, and there he stands, cute and bright as ever, speaking to a crowd about his heart disease.  Praising God every minute he is at the podium, I marvel at how far we have come on this crazy ride of congenital heart defects that began almost fifteen years ago. Who knew Lucas would land here? Back when he was a baby, I did not think he would survive, let alone thrive. The Executive Director of camp, Lisa Knight,  invited us to be guests at the Gala del Sol this spring at Universal Studios, where Lucas will share his story again.  This time he will don a snazzy tuxedo instead of cowboy hat.
Meet Rudy at

 As the night ended, a mom and dad pushed a stroller towards us and introduced themselves. They told Lucas his story gave them hope, as their son Rudy is struggling with similar medical issues. It was a blessing for us parents to share the frustration and hopes that are part of having a child with heart issues. It’s amazing how we speak the same language.  Most parents don’t converse “tracheotomy-feeding-tube-pulmonologist-UCLA-open-heart-surgery" lingo like us..

What can I say other than I'm very proud of my son and extremely thankful that God has kept him out of the operating room these past thirteen years. Good health is everything people! Amen.
Of course, this was a night Grandma and Grandpa would not miss

Dr. Shannon, the man with the biggest heart!
Hee Haw ;0)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Balance Tip O' The Week

Prioritize ruthlessly
The secret to organizing time effectively boils down to knowing what’s important and what can be put off. It’s  key  to use the sharpest knife possible when cutting the essential from the secondary. My compulsion to make lists helps me see what can stay and what needs to be trimmed. It helps to ask yourself questions that determine the level of urgency . Often I fall into the “instant-and-immediate” answer syndrome just to check off my list. Avoid that. Give yourself time to do what you need to do correctly. Be fully present. The bottom line is that treating everything as top priority is draining, depleting and stressful. So, Prioritize ruthlessly!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Balancing Stress

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'... She fooled them all. "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Pick them up tomorrow.

What was my "take away" after reading this? In order to keep balance in everyday life, we musn't carry our burdens and stress every where we go. And this (like learning to ride a unicycle) takes practice. I am far from mastering "letting go," but am willing to work on it. Are you?  Good Luck,Grasshopper!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed

Maybe because it is a new year or maybe because we are all dying? Whatever the reason, the folloing article stuck with me like gum under my shoe on a hot day. It's worth passing along.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.  When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Source :

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Holiday Happenings, The Final Chapter

The Tree Game is the high point of our Family Christmas Gathering (maybe a tie with my son’s magic act he performed after dinner). You see, my family does not exchange Christmas gifts, but we all agree to take the chance of winning big (or not at all) playing The Christmas Tree Game. This game of dumb luck can send you away with only a zonker gift like bread pudding, or loads of gift cards, cash and fine champagne. Because a couple of the ornament spots on the Tree  board tell all the players to leave their loot behind and move seats to the left or right, the game really is not over until it’s over. High suspense!
All players show up with a minimum of four wrapped gifts ...  so there is a huge pile of loot at game start. This year, all were required to bring something made in America, along with a white elephant gift, plus two other wrapped items that could be cash, gift card, or actual presents … all totaling one hundred buckaroos.  "Pity the Fool," (As Mr. T would say) that gets stuck with the camping shower. This is the White Elephant “Piece De Resistance” that has been regifted for five years. I found it a tricky task to buy a gift made in America that, old and young, man or woman could use.  After scratching my chinny-chin-chin for days, I bought a sixteen-roll pack of toilet paper and camouflaged it festively with green wrapping paper and a gold bow.  Other All-American gifts were a mouse pad, Hollywood keychain, a CD of the song “Made In America,” a brick, and a metal bank hand crafted by Simcro Precision, Inc.
In this home-spun game (which is in it’s third edition) you roll the dice and your pawn jumps from ornament to ornament on the Tree board.  Players are instructed to sing carols, answer Christmas trivia, pick a gift, steal a gift, swap a gift, change seats or pay a “Starbuck,” and wear the silly elf hat. At the end of the game, whoever is wearing the elf hat wins all the Starbucks that add up to a nice cash prize. The biggest loser of the night wins The Mystery Gift. Consider this a consolation prize, that this year doubled as a boobie prize, because part of the Mystery Gift was a zebra-fur-hot water bottle. Really. It would have been a real zonker, except for the lottery tickets tucked inside.
Christmas Eve! Yes, Daniel has a blue beard... long story!
Miss Piggy ended up the loot champion of the night, but actually, we are all victorious because every player walked away with sore tummies from laughing hard and memories more valuable than golden eggs. My prayer is that we will all be healthy and together again to play this annual family game this Christmas.

Well, Roger That, Houston, this the final chapter on our Christmas Holiday Happenings for 2011. We are a week into  2012 and it’s time to move forward and onward, to reach the top, we’re working for a victory that can’t be stopped! Ooopps, my inner cheerleader slipped out. I guess you can say that I am excited about keeping good balance and seeking new adventures  in this brand-spankin-new year!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Balance Tip O' The Week

Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them. Thomas Kinkade

Monday, January 2, 2012

Following New and Old Traditions

Following someone you look up to is a good practice. Following your heart and having others follow in your footsteps is even better.”
My husband’s decision to take up coining and buy a metal detector did not receive my support, at first. I reminded him of the dirty quads we just paid to re-register, and the chicken coop plans he ordered to start building a roost for our future, dare I call them, pets? Then I saw our boys taking interest in coin collecting/treasure hunting and recalled how my dad and I went to coin shows to scout out Indian Head Nickels when I was eleven. Therefore, I saw this as something my boys could do together. Next, I readjusted my profile of a metal detector owner.  My conclusion is that they  are not for old men with black socks to roam the beach anymore.  It’s all good if our kids, whom look up to their Dad, want to follow him as he follows his heart (along with old screws and rusted dimes). Okay then,  more power to the people! Same for the Chicken Project of 2012. I have no choice but to embrace all this tom-foolery (that’s how I see it) because I live in an all male house and have to shrug off our differences on my way to my pedicure. Maybe I must accept these things as new traditions because, why yes, testosterone does rule around here. Now you see why I suggested a Wife Swap with the two-daughter-family next door.
Enough of that, back to our Holiday Happenings.
An old tradition is the gathering of my girlfriends from high school. We meet every Christmas to have dinner and exchange gifts. It’s a treasured time to catch up because we all have busy lives and can't sit around drinking Boonesfarm wine in the fields like when we were stupid teenagers. My husband, having five weeks off work and plenty O’ time to hang out, decided to be one of the girls. I was not crazy about our party crasher, but after a glass of champagne, I admit he definitely made this night extra festive and silly. And, speaking of champagne,
Cheers to a New Year!
Next post I will share our Family Christmas Tree Game Tradition played  on Christmas night. Our theme this year was Made In America (as showcased by darling Cousin Marinna). You might say we are doing our part to give the economy a much needed boost!