Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I am sure when I mention “ELLEN” you immediately think of “Ellen Degeneres” -the comedian and talk show host, who I admire and find highly entertaining! But at the top of MY admiration list, you will find ELLEN “W”. Who I must say is highly entertaining, and like Ellen D is really a life changer for so many people, helping them to reach for their potential.

She works full time and then teaches zumba and boot camp for the employee wellness program, after work, 4 days a week. Her zumba classes are a unique and choreographed routines that she has worked on to express her enthusiasm for dance and music. She is energetic and motivating and keeps her classes entertaining and positive. It is an excellent way to get rid of the stress and pressure of our jobs while getting and staying FIT!!

So for years I went to the gym regularly, but didn't really have a definite program to follow. In my employee email, there was always emails almost daily from the “EMPLOYEE LIVE WELL,BE WELL UNIVERSITY”. This is a program for employees designed to help employees adopt healthy behaviors to improve life and reduce health risks. (The bottom line is that it benefits the organization by lowering health costs!) There were Pilates, boot camp, yoga, Zumba classes and more, that were free to us. I decided to try out one of classes after work at my facility. It was a good workout geared to whatever our level of flexibility was and the teacher, Jen was so cheerful and motivating. The group was friendly and encouraged me to come back, that I could do it!! Then they wanted me to join their run club! That was just the beginning! I ran a total of 10 races that year, even placing in a couple small races in my age group. (Yes, as I get older, the crowd thins!!)

In 2014, a 6 week fitness challenge-- “A SIZZLING SUMMER CHALLENGE” was coming up at another facility led by Ellen. I persuaded one of my fitness buddies, that I would try it if she would do it with me. The “challenge” involved a theme and not only an exercise program every day, but a balanced nutritional plan to follow,if desired. We were divided into teams. We got a calendar with the themes for the day or week and accumulate points by attendance and coming in “theme” of the day and doing bonus workouts.  Ellen kept us motivated and the challenge fun and intense! Her class reminders include inspirational quotes.  My friend and I worked our buns off and were rewarded by finishing 1st (her) and 2nd (me) minus a little “bum” to boot! What a rush! We were winners!! And so completed the first challenge of many to follow.

Ellen uses her creativity to come up with challenges especially at strategic times of the year when we usually slack off the exercise and make excuses for eating more and exercising less. Most of all, it is amazing to see the change in people as they exercise regularly and gain confidence and better health. Over the past years, there are many success stories of lifestyle behavior changes and improved health, they will list Ellen as the turning point for sparking their transformation. 

 I am so grateful for Ellen and her leadership and influence in my life. 

She knows how to "make it happen!"


A leader is one who knows the way, 
goes the way, 
and shows the way.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


It is that time of year again when I make my annual pilgrimage to the North-Beautiful British Columbia. It use to be for R&R from my stressful work situation, but now that I am retired. . . it still is R&R! Just in case I am not resting enough in retirement!! It also helps that I get recharged hanging out with my friends and loved ones!

One of my favorite spots continues to be the Slocan River. I know I have mentioned that before in previous blogs,(TAKE ME TO THE RIVER) but whose counting or who is even reading?
I still have happy feet!!
I had just arrived to the Valley of the Crescent and my “camp host” (I can call her that cause I am staying in her camper in this corner of paradise),Gina, had rounded up a posse of floaters wanting to raft. It was a perfect sunny day for the river. And from previous river excursions, the river was at a perfect level—not too high and not too low!!

Just right-because I didn't get dumped but plenty of sloshing to keep cool!!

"Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy!  
To do nothing and have it count for something!"

Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/reginabret586808.html?src=t_lazy

Thursday, May 5, 2016


A snow bird is a nickname for the dark-eyed junco. The junco has affectionately been called the "snowbird" because huge numbers migrate south in the winter from higher latitudes into much of the United States as the snow begins to fall.

 However, we have generally used the term "snowbird" for people who move from northern colder climates and migrate southward to warmer locales such as Florida, Arizona, Mexico,etc!  The majority of "snowbirds" are between the ages of 50 and 69.

I can't really claim I am from a northern climate-- but I claim Northern California as my home and I am between the ages of 50 and 69!! Does that make me a "snowbird".  Whatever!! So when I was invited to join a flock of "birds" in Florida I spread my wings and flew!!

Somewhere in my dim and mystic past, I remember visiting Florida several times.  About all I remember was that it was hot and humid and couldn't understand why people would flock there.  I expected to get off the plane and be greeted by warm steamy weather giving me an instant friz.  So I was surprised in so many ways!

I indeed received a warm welcome, not from the weather but from my host, Kathy. She greeted me like a celebrity with poster, fans and media!  (Actually, the media and fans were waiting for the local winning sport team to arrive!)

Our destination was Amelia Island, the northeast corner of the state. The weather was perfect my whole visit, making me understand why there is a mass migration to Florida in the winter.  Not only was the weather outstanding, but the residents were warm and welcoming.  I made so many friends the first day.

Amelia Island is a jewel in the "Sea Island" chain of  barrier islands off the East coast. It is "easy to reach but hard to forget". A beautiful island with a lot of history.  I was in for an unforgettable experience.  Kathy has been a long time resident of the area so nothing like a seasoned tour guide. We biked the Amelia Island Trail--a lovely paved tree-lined trail that stretches through the Island. I didn't get tired of biking the "canopy" roads .  There were walks and lounging on the beach and strolls down the historic streets of Fernandina Beach with the oldest saloon and old mansions. 

 I did take a little side tour of the oldest city in the nation, St. Augustine. It was settled over 450 years ago. History is brilliantly on display in St. Augustine. From the coquina walls of its forts and city gates to its brick-lined streets. Again with a seasoned tour guide and driver Fred, Kathy's husband.  What a difference it makes when you have someone who can relate stories of the history that go along with the ancient landmarks.


So to just sum it all up--I loved my "snowbird" experience and hope to do it again. It was one of the most relaxing and "renewing" vacations I've had!

 I have to give a shout-out to my hostess with the mostest-- Kathy.
Kathy and I were linked by the Lymphoma Foundation over 15 years ago by their "Cell Buddy" support network. We had met at some of the LRF conferences. But mostly over the years, we have been email buddies. So this visit was very special for both us in many ways.  We are both "survivors" and thriving and enjoying life so much.  Kathy is a real champion in managing lymphoma. This visit I witnessed what a kind and generous soul she is.  What a gift was given to me years ago with by that link! (Thank you Izumi at LFR!) 

"Each friend represents a world in us,
 a world possibly not born until they arrive, 
and it is only by this meeting 
that a new world is born.”
Anaïs Nin




Saturday, March 19, 2016


I was listening to one of my NPR podcasts and Maggie Smith was being interviewed. As most of you may know she is famous for her rendering of Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey--a woman born into aristocracy. The interviewer mentioned that one of his favorite quotes of hers from the series was: "Wh-what is a week-end?" Of course this is because she hasn't worked a day in her life and all days are the same, I suppose.  But then that quote really resonated with me!!

I retired recently and it has given me a whole new perspective on weekends, so to speak.  Rather, I now have  7 day weekends!  Yipee!  

I really thought I would have to work till I was 70 or till I just passed out on the job and they carried me out in a box. Maybe it is that nurse button inside of me that I have to work to save the world and everyone in it. Also partly the nurse inside of me that I must serve everyone else before I can take care of myself.

I had wanted to be a nurse since I was a little kid as I have detailed in a previous blog- NURSES CALL THE SHOTS
I have been working as a nurse for 40+ years, but I started the labor force when I was just a kid! My dad was a professor and somehow he decided that he would have his kids mimeograph and collate his class syllabus, about 176+ pages. Perhaps to prevent that "idle mind" stuff and make extra money. I am sure few of you have every heard of a mimeograph or ditto machine or any copying machine before Xerox.  My mother would type up the stencils and these could be used for years to print with the mimeograph if handled carefullyDefinitely a fine art.  Had to watch the ink, etc. We also would print and collate his sermons for 1/2 cent a piece, which he sold for 10 cents at his meetings. We preferred his shortest sermon, "Secrets of a Happy Marriage" which had only 7 pages compared to one of the more theological ones with 15 pages. And we could gather those pages up quick!

That was just the beginning of many other jobs.  Grade school janitor in 7th and 8th grade. Then on to
kitchen cook and dishwasher, nurses aide, teachers aide, secretary, yada yada yada.The list goes on. "9 to 5"s been my theme song for years.  (but there were a lot of 11-7 and 3-11's)  I started thinking that I have been "working" for 55 years, when am I going to

 "stop livin' at work and workin' at living!"

The more I thought about it, the more and more that sounded sooooo good. I don't need a zillion dollars.  I don't need day-loads of stress. I don't need all the anxiety. I don't need the neck and back ache from focusing on the computer and cradling the phone. I don't need the weekly reports of minutia. I don't need the pressure and  negative energy drain of the job.   

I hit the "escape" button and haven't looked back!!

"Retirement, a time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, where you want to do it, and, how you want to do it."

Friday, November 27, 2015


Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, 
and spend without fear of bankruptcy.

I was taking my yoga class this week and Jackie always leaves us a tidbit to mull over for the day. She gave us a gratitude quote and it reminded me that I have so much that I am grateful for these days. Especially, when I think of the passing of dear friends over this last year, I realize how wonderful life is and how precious our friends are!
 We should certainly count our blessings,
 but we should also make our blessings count.

Health is a wonderful thing that I often take for granted until I have an event that reminds me that I got to take care of myself cause that is all I have!! "Health brings a freedom very few realize until they no longer have it!!"

As I was driving around town the other day and saw the kaleidoscope of colors, I had to pull over and "drink in the beauty" of it all in and take a few pictures.  The leaves will soon be gone and another season commenced.  It is time to stop and smell the roses!
 Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.


Friday, May 8, 2015


 "Don’t meditate to fix yourself, 
to heal yourself, 
to improve yourself, 
to redeem yourself; 
 do it as an act of love, 
of deep warm friendship to yourself."

I was in need of continuing education credits to renew my nursing license, so I decided to attend a MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION RETREAT at Commonweal Center in Bolinas. I would receive 24 CEU's and it was promoted as:   a place where you can be “unplugged” for several days to recover a sense of personal presence and well-being.  The location was idyllic-- Point Reyes National Seashore.  I had no idea that "unplugged" would literally mean NO wi-fi or cellular service.

The you that goes in one side of
 the meditation experience
 is not the same you that comes out the other side

I didn't know what to expect.  I just hoped I would have some good food and relax for the weekend. Didn't want to have to do any role-playing or oral presentations!  

I hadn't noticed that it advertised- "gourmet vegetarian meals"- I was just so set on getting the CEU's! 

We left Sac, the temp was 92 but as we got closer to the coast, it began to cool dramatically! The scenery was beautiful as we curved through the  green rolling hills and arrived at Bolinas. Our group was an eclectic bunch.  Some professionals in need of CEU's, several alumni, and then   others who like me had no idea what "mindfulness" 
involved, but thought their lives were so stressful, they would benefit from stress reduction. 

 I thought the weekend would be filled with lectures, maybe a few power point presentations, and a syllabus to follow along with.  I was in for a big surprise.  Basically, it was 3 days of meditating.  Sitting, walking, laying down for "body scan". Our leaders Steve & Bob, would talk a little, then we'd meditate. Usually once or twice a day, we would go around the circle, or divide into small groups expressing some of our thoughts or feelings, what we expected, feared , enjoyed or anticipated about our meditations. I confess that during our meditations times,  my mind at times became so uncluttered and blank that I nodded off now and then. But on the whole I stayed focused.


We started each day with some yoga or Qigong.  We even had one day of "silence".  For those of you who know me--not one of my strong suits.  I enjoy the fellowship with others and feel I learn a lot from hearing other peoples stories. Once again, I may have slipped a little on the "vow of silence", so guess I wouldn't make a very good Trappist Monk or Vestal Virgin for that matter.

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado. 
Dam a stream and it will create a new channel. 
Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry you to higher groun



As I mentioned before, I had no idea that the highlight of this retreat was the fantastic food!  Certainly gourmet and all vegetarian, organic and locally grown.  While there were books and CD's on meditation, I wanted THE cookbook.  However, our chef said it was "under construction"!  Every meal was a culinary delight!

There was plenty of time to take long walks and enjoy the countryside. I could meditate on the beauty of the ocean, blooming flowers and magnificent trees. I didn't miss the lack of cellular service one bit!!

 Mindfulness meditation doesn't change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart's capacity to accept life as it is.


I was surprised that I really did come out a different person, more aware and that I really wanted to have a time everyday to meditate and quiet the chatter in my head.  It was amazing to watch many morph into kinder, softer, and less stressed persons.

 The time will come when with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the others welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, 
 to the stranger who has loved you all your life, 
whom you have ignored for another,
 who knows you by heart. 

I highly recommend you check out one of these retreats! 
You will find it is a rich and powerful program.