What are you training for?

Proper English…”For what are you training?”

Proper Yoda…”Training for what, you are?”

Are you going for the gold emotionally, spiritually, AND physically? Or have you found that you’ve become complacent or stuck in a rut?

Do you ever wonder what you are supposed to be doing? Do you ever think you could/should be doing more? Do you ever think your life is a bit like the movie Groundhog Day? The same thing day in and day out? Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat…
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This can pertain to your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical life. Watching the Olympics lately has got me thinking about training. Not only physical, but any kind of life training. As far as the Olympics, the amazing athletes have put a tremendous amount of hard work, time, and specific training in to get to the biggest sporting stage in the World. Some athletes have been going nonstop since they were just toddlers! The amount of work that goes into competing at that level is truly inspiring!
Then there’s me…I tend to be a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal unless I have a goal. The voices in my head say, “You’re healthy enough, you’re at a healthy weight, your heart is healthy, so you don’t need to be doing anything else physically. Just go sit and watch Netflix and chill…” I don’t want to work too hard if I don’t have to! HA!
And then there is this…more voices telling me, “You’re already a good enough person, you are nice to others, you don’t lie, cheat, or steal. So you don’t need to challenge yourself mentally or spiritually. God knows you love Him. Your friends and family know you care”, etc., etc…
That kind of thinking doesn’t get me too far. I get really lazy. I start eating way too much “junk food” that I know will only make me feel crappy or increase inflammation (which isn’t good with MS). I start ruminating on the negative things in life. Or make up stuff to worry about in the future. Do you see where I’m going with this? It isn’t where any of us are supposed to be. I believe we are supposed to challenge ourselves to be better, stronger, more mature people. Without any challenges, we would never know just how strong, emotionally or physically, we can really be. I know life can throw us some huge challenges without seeking them out, but sometimes we still might find ourselves stuck and stagnant, and in need of some good training.
20 years ago, I was exercising “just enough”, eating just “healthy enough”, and doing just enough to get by and look a certain way. It dawned on me that with my personality, I needed to set a goal, and tell people about the commitment, or I would never push myself beyond “good enough”. For some crazy reason doing a bodybuilding competition seemed like the best goal for me. It forced me to look at my diet and exercise in a completely different way. My life revolved around my little family, my home, and getting my personal training business up and running. My bodybuilding goal required 16 weeks of focus, specific training, and huge changes in my eating habits. No more cookies for breakfast or stealing all of the french fries from my daughter’s Happy Meal (Yeah, I was a bad mom, and bad trainer, for ever letting my kiddo eat that stuff!)
Several years after that, I realized something was lacking in my spiritual life. My relationship with the Lord wasn’t as close as I felt like it needed to be. I just wasn’t one of those people who would sit in prayer every morning or read my Bible every night. My mom was sick with a terminal illness and life was stressful. I needed some training. So I committed to joining a Bible study group and had my friend hold me accountable to show up and do my homework every week. Sometimes we all need a challenge to get us to not only develop new habits, but to push us to be a little bit better at something.
After my MS diagnosis, I went into a bit of a funk. I’m not sure if I would call it full on depression, but I definitely had a hard time feeling like my happy, optimistic self, and not focusing on how bleak my future “could” be. My future might mean huge declines in my physical or mental health. It’s very easy to get caught up in our own heads and our own disappointments. Once again I needed something to “train for”. I decided to volunteer at our local hospice unit at the hospital. We are all terminal if you think about it. It wouldn’t be such a scary place. I knew this be a great way for me to stop focusing on myself. My self pity and self absorption flew out those hospice windows whenever I was there!
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Now I’m in a mode of training again. I challenge myself just by writing this blog. I’m not a private person by any means, but it is scary putting “me” out into the World! Fear of rejection and not being good enough is definitely a part of this journey. But it is good training for me to be a stronger me. To grow more as the creative person I know still hides inside of me and screams to get out. Training for that book I’ve wanted to write for over 20 years.
My husband also recently challenged me to train for something physical. Maybe y’all can help me out? I don’t love running long distances, so a marathon is NOT my calling. I know I can climb 14-ers without much training. So I’m looking for an event to train for that I’ve never done before. Maybe an MS event? If you know of some fun, challenging events coming up in Colorado, I’d love for you to share! Please comment with your ideas.
What training is out there waiting for you? Remember, we only change, mature, and get stronger by going through the challenges, no matter what they are. Go for the gold! You deserve it!
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“You is smart, you is kind, you is important”

I hope y’all are staying healthy during this crazy flu season!  I actually gave in and got the flu vaccine this past weekend while the grandkids were getting theirs. I don’t really get the vaccines often (some say that since I have MS, I have a bad immune system and should always get the vaccine. But, my immune system ISN’T bad…It is just CONFUSED! Haha!) Since the kiddos were getting theirs, and their momma might have already had the flu and wasn’t getting the vaccine, I decided to take one for the team and go ahead and get it. Even though it’s only 30-40% effective this year, the flu is so prevalent that it’s better than not trying, I guess! The 4 1/2 year old gladly threw me under the bus to get it done first so she could see if it hurt me. Wouldn’t ya know that I’ve had a sore throat and felt a bit yucky the past few days, and my granddaughter has all the symptoms of a bad cold (or flu) suddenly! Hmmm??? This is why I usually just skip the dang thing! Oh well…

I have been hanging out with my sweet babies quite a bit lately.  And they are at just the right ages when their personalities are forming and they soak up things they hear like little sponges. I often think about the adorable scene from The Help when little Mae is being told by Abileen how important she is. Little ones need to hear this important, soul and spirit building stuff, on the daily. Every adult around them should be constantly telling them how loved they are, how unique they are, and how much they have to offer the world.

As important as it is for children to hear their praises being sung, what about adults? Don’t you like to get a compliment or hear praise about yourself once in a while? Well, maybe some of you don’t. Sometimes we get embarrassed or feel undeserving of positive reinforcement and compliments. But we all need them sometimes! No matter what our age. It is important for kiddos as they are developing who they are in the world, but just as important for aging individuals, especially the senior population (I have no idea what age is considered senior citizen anymore! I feel like I am inching closer and closer!) I know that I train four women in their late 70s to late 80s, and they all doubt themselves at different levels. They love to hear “good job” and really soak up compliments on a job well done in the studio. Of course they probably think I only say it since they pay me!😉 We all need to practice, not only letting our lights shine, but not being afraid to tell others that they are awesome, did a great job, or have impressed us in some way. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll come back to you. You are special, important to this world, and have a lot to offer someone-or many “someones”! We need more kindness now days.

I came across this wonderful quote at least a decade ago, and it has been printed and stuck on my refrigerator ever since. I read it several times a week, and would often have my daughter read it when she was having a tough time as an adolescent…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is it everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson
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By the way…how did y’all do with last week’s challenge of selfless loving? I only made it about 25 hours and 13 minutes! Wow, it’s hard to be totally selfless! Keep on working at it! Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and let love shine!

Winning at relationships in a “me” world…

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 Hi all! I have been a bit of a slacker as of late and did not stick with my goal of posting once a week. Last week was a bit tough: extreme fatigue, headaches, and a very non-compliant body. It made me extremely lazy (and procrastinate). I did what my mind and body thought was good, but had to force myself to do a couple of “wimpy” workouts. (Speaking of workouts, I hope you weren’t expecting a bunch of workouts on here…I’m realizing that I don’t really enjoy trying to teach exercises via writing and pictures- I’m a face to face kind of trainer. I will try to get another goodie out for ya soon though! They don’t call me Buff Grandma for nothing!) I didn’t even hike last week, and we had record high temps here in Colorado Springs. Oh, and I ate brownies and donuts over the weekend… I think I heard somewhere that they would help my MS?! Haha!
But seriously, I can’t beat myself up, and I have to remind myself that I have a disease that might force me to slow down sometimes. I am human (some personal trainers aren’t!) And I love my junk food occasionally. The problem is, so does my hubby. We can be so bad together! Especially when we decide to go to Whole Foods to pick up some kind of “healthy” dessert to go with our post-movie takeout dinner! But, we can be oh so good, too! I am extremely blessed to be married to my best friend for the past 24 years-someone who’d jump in front of a bus for me. Someone who hates to see me struggling or hurting. As a self-admittedly selfish man, he has a huge heart, and he loves me unconditionally… as I do him.
 So, how the heck are relationships, friendships or romantic, supposed to survive in a world where it seems like everyone is out for themselves? So many play the victim, are easily offended at anything said or done that is in direct opposition of their views, or are just purely selfish and self absorbed.  Why are mature, loving relationships so hard? You would think that when one is deeply in love with somebody that only positive words and actions would follow. But, “people are people” and it just doesn’t seem like that is the case with 90% of us. Ok, maybe it’s more like 100% of us! None of us love someone the way they should be loved 100% of time. If that happened, it’d be a perfect world, and that is definitely not the case! But, the world hasn’t totally gone mad, even though it seems we are well on the way sometimes. I truly believe we can still be the light in a dark world, and have amazing, loving relationships with one another. We are called to this kind of love, Christian or not.  Even though human beings are inherently selfish- maybe it goes back to the early days of survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, every man out for themselves. We have the ability, unlike most mammals, to show emotions, to love, and to choose HOW to love. Are we going to waste the potential we have for love by being rude, selfish, and hateful? Many will, unfortunately. Maybe they grew up in horrible conditions, no one showing them unconditional love, or literally had to fight for their survival. Some of us might have to work on it more than others, but it is possible, unless a true mental illness exists.
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Genuine love isn’t “I love you and I want you to make me happy”, it is “I love you and I want you to be happy”. Ideally, before people come together in a relationship, each person should already embrace their own sense of self-love, self-fulfillment, and self-respect; then they can appreciate that in another. No one should expect another person to give him/her that sense of fulfillment.
A good friend recently made the comment that she finally realized after 25 years of marriage, that deep, down to the soul, long term love required her to “100% give up her own selfishness”.  Wow! Can you imagine not thinking about your own needs in a relationship? Just focusing on the other’s? What would happen? Complete Godly, other-self love. God is love! If we want the perfect example of love, it is in our Creator. Often, God’s love is referred to as agape love, which is the highest form of love: selfless and sacrificial. It is steadfast, unchanging, and unconditional. We shouldn’t love someone for what they give us or what we are getting. We should love for what we can give to him/her. The hope is, that the same would start to be returned to you… it’s a perfect cycle. The beauty we’d see in them would be a reflection of God’s love. To love in any other way is to be dependent on another, with expectations and demands, and will only set us up for disappointment.
So how many of you are shaking your heads at my words and wondering, “what about me? What if I am being treated horribly, or being abused emotionally or physically?” I am absolutely not saying to stay in a friendship or romantic relationship when the other person is abusive, using you, treating you badly, etc. I am talking about how to enhance relationships that aren’t already lost or dysfunctional, or even how to get a new relationship off to an amazing start. Maybe you’ve hit a rut in a new relationship and are starting to focus on all of the bad habits the other person has or the things the other isn’t  doing for you. Or maybe you’ve been together for decades and are finding yourself nagging again or feeling disconnected emotionally.
How about a little challenge as we start February, the month of love? What if you dedicated an entire seven days (it won’t make you “weak”!) to being as selfless as possible to another person, whether a friend that has been difficult, or your significant other/spouse? In every word and action, think first, “will this hurt or uplift the other?” What can you do to show someone you love them and are dedicated to his/her happiness? Does it really matter if your husband left the cabinet open when he got a glass? I bet he didn’t do it to make you mad. If he’s like my husband, he just has his mind on so many things that he completely forgets sometimes. Maybe offer to pour him a glass of wine… after quietly shutting the cabinet (not like me when I slam it to make a point that he left it open… again!) Do you need to point out to your wife that the house is a big mess when you get home? Maybe she had a long, rough day with the kids putting toys in the toilet, the dog ate the remote, and the vacuum broke.  Maybe ask her if there’s anything you can do to help or offer to rub her feet after the kids go to bed. After you get home from a hard day of work, instead of racing off to your room or to shower, sit and catch up with your loved one for 15 minutes first. Let your loved one pick the movie or choose the restaurant. You get what I’m saying, right? Sometimes when we focus on other people, we start to feel better, and they might just start treating you differently, too. Try it for a week and just make note of the amazing changes in your relationship. I promise it won’t hurt you… at least not TOO bad!
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“Manners maketh man”…and woman

(Otherwise known as Buff Grandma’s pet peeves…and a big thanks to Kingsman: The Golden Circle for the title of this post!)
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Yeah yeah yeah, I’m going there! Admit it – we all have pet peeves! And we are either on the giving or receiving end. I’m sure I am the cause of many’s pet peeves! I don’t know why it has hit me lately, but I just want to put some simple reminders out into the universe. It’s fun being a “blogger”- I can just write about whatever comes to my mind, whatever I want to vent about, or whatever I think might be useful to others;)

If someone sees a missed call from you and you didn’t leave a message, then it’s safe to assume it must not have been important (or that you “butt dialed” them). But, don’t give them a hard time for not calling you back. If you really need/want to talk to someone, please leave a message! If you still have a voice, you can leave a voicemail. If someone sends you a text and you don’t think it requires a response, still send one – even an “OK” or “got it” would suffice. Not responding is kind of like someone telling you something and then totally ignoring it. It’s a courtesy to simply let them know that you even got their text in the first place. Most people are not mind readers. If someone is waiting for an answer, then reply in a timely manner. Our rule of thumb for our business is to always respond within 24 hours. Often family or really close friends will give you a bit more grace if they are just wanting to touch base and catch up. Just don’t leave them hanging.
If you get an invite that requires an RSVP, then puh-leeze RSVP, whether it a yes or no! And do it on time! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of people never replying- it’s really ignoring the fact you even received the invite. People rely on those RSVP numbers for food, drink, seats, venue, etc. If you simply overlook it and forget, just call the sender and apologize, and make it happen the next time. Or you just might stop being invited…
If you get a gift from someone, say thank you! The day of writing thank you notes might be forgotten to many, but there are plenty of ways to say thank you! A hug and a thank you in person would be great. It is still a general “rule” to always send a thank you note when you receive a gift and the giver was NOT there to thank in person.  Many online “experts” say you can take up to 3 months to send a thank you note- seems a bit much to me, but it’s better late than never! If you don’t have any thank you cards, or you can’t write, there’s the phone- it still makes calls! Finally there’s texting. It might seem like the easy way out, but again, I still say it’s better than never saying thank you at all!! Any thank you is better than none and it lets the giver know you received the gift and appreciate the thought.
If you are meeting someone and running more than 5 minutes late, just let them know! There’s enough technology to inform them of your tardiness. And if you are the type that is always late, think about ways you can change that. It’s rude to the person or people waiting on you all of the time. (I have a daughter and a great friend that I still love and adore despite their tardiness, but they are usually good at letting people know they’re running late). It appears to the one waiting that you might think your time is more important than theirs. And once again, you might not get asked to go places or meet up with certain people again. There are apps and life coaches to help you learn how to be more timely.
And men (maybe in your case it’s actually the woman), don’t act put out when you “have to” watch the kids. You are the other parent, remember? So don’t act like a babysitter. They’re your kids, too. Take the opportunity to really connect with your kids and do something they want to do. Maybe play barbies, have a tea party, or engage in a child’s game that they’ve been begging to play. They’ll thank you someday and won’t feel like you never wanted to hangout with them unless you “had to”.
If someone is talking to you about something important, and you find yourself in a bit of a disagreement, don’t use the term “whatever”. Seems like such a simple, single word, but many people see it as a brush off- like you might as well say “that’s stupid”, “you don’t know what you’re talking about”, “you’re not worth figuring this out with”, etc. As a recovering Passive-Agressive personality, this is a similar response. It is OK to be a nice person and still be assertive. And figuring out ways to communicate effectively with people shows maturity and respect.
A red light is actually red! And it really does mean stop! I know in Colorado there are a lot of color blind people, but it comes after yellow, and it means stop everywhere! Not plow through faster! And not sit and look around and then decide to just go ahead since you are too important to wait for it to turn green. I’ve seen too many accidents and close-calls because people think their time is too precious to stop at a light. It could just be your life you save…or my grandchildren’s.
In general, say please and thank you, open the door for others, have patience for the one going slow with a cane or wheelchair (it could be you someday!), respond if someone asks you how you’re doing or wishes you a good day, speak kindly (words really do hurt), and for goodness sake, cover your mouth! And not with your hand! Doesn’t everyone know by now that you cough or sneeze into your arm, not your hand?! Sigh 😔
Hope this wasn’t too snarky for you. Buff Grandma really is a nice person. I believe manners and treating others the way you want to be treated is of utmost importance. I promise next post won’t be so bossy;)

Showing Empathy…does it come naturally for you?

 

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 I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately. During December, I came across many people who were either sick with the flu, stomach junk, or just all around horrible viruses. How I managed to avoid any of this, when about 84.9% of the people I was around for several weeks were sick (including my entire immediate family), is amazing! Take that MS! Hear me roar! Sorry, I’m off topic…I also talked with many people who were struggling with Christmas being their first Christmas without a loved one who had died. And a dear, long-term friend of mine whose mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, was experiencing what would probably be the last Christmas with her mom (unfortunately her sweet momma passed away 3 days ago). I noticed during the past month, that everyone has different ways of reacting to people who are going through tough times. It is fascinating how many people seem to have little capacity for empathy. But, what exactly is empathy?
Empathy is often confused with sympathy. As time has gone on, it seems that the two have pulled away from each other and have come to mean fairly different things. Both of the terms deal with the relationship one has to the feelings and experiences of another, and in fact are very similar, but they do differ. Dictionary.com describes empathy as ‘the psychological identification with or vicarious experiences of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another’. In layman‘s terms, it’s basically putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sympathy is defined as ‘the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; full of feeling, compassion, or commiseration’. Today, sympathy is mostly used to convey pity or feelings of sorrow for someone who is experiencing grief or misfortune. You can think of a greeting card, offering messages of sorrow and support for those people in their time of need. Empathy does not only mean to “feel sorry” for someone in their time of need or distress, but to be able to walk hand in hand with the person, see through one’s eyes, and feel what one might be feeling.
“Empathy is walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…sympathy is being sorry for them that their feet hurt”
Is empathy something that human beings come by naturally or something that needs to be learned? How can we help ourselves or others be more empathetic? This has been something I have been trying to wrap my mind around for awhile. In a world where it seems like so many people are selfish and only out for themselves, it can be very distressing when you are one of the individuals who is empathetic. But, does it mean that if we are one of those individuals, that we should become cynical and just stop doing it? Is there a way that we can help ourselves or others learn how to be empathetic?
I believe empathy, and acts of care and compassion, are often learned by watching those with whom we grow up and hang around. I also think that some people are just born more empathetic than others. But, and it’s a big but, empathy can be learned if one is willing. Things like watching emotional movies and reading more books – basically being immersed in characters lives – can help develop skills of feeling what someone else is feeling. But the skills can be internalized: taking the time to listen more to others, sharing in other people’s problems and joys, paying attention to people’s facial expressions, and using eye contact, can help give you tools to be more empathetic. Sometimes simply imagining what it would be like to be in the same position as another, even if you haven’t actually experienced the same thing, can help you feel what they are feeling to a certain extent.
Empathy can help build and strengthen personal relationships. Have you ever opened up to a friend or spouse about something you are really struggling with and you get, “Im sorry. So do you wanna go get a coffee?” (insert fidgeting and eyes dancing around). Or you are really sick and you get absolutely no offer of help or care, but then your significant other moans until you wait on them hand and foot when they’re in the same boat? This is exaggerated, but people talk to me about similar situations all the time. Remember, personal trainers are like bartenders or hairdressers- we hear it all;) Some people have a hard time showing empathy when they are going through a hard time themselves- it’s hard to give when one is already knee deep in their own stuff. But showing others compassion and empathy doesn’t mean we can’t still take care of our own needs. In fact, if you truly love and care about yourself, then you are able to look outside yourself and show others more concern and empathy. So next time you see someone hurting, physically or emotionally, just take a moment to try to feel what they feel, or remember how you felt in a similar situation, and give them the care and compassion that you might want if it was you. I know, I know…I’m asking a lot! How the heck are you supposed to help someone else if you, yourself, are busy or hurting?? Well, funny you should ask. I’ve noticed that when we take the time to help others, our minds suddenly shift the focus off of ourselves and our own pain. It’ll work…just give it a try!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 

 

 

The beautiful side of death…

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

     I know, I know, the new year is just starting and I choose to talk about something so difficult and unhappy. What a joy-sucker! But, today is the 16th anniversary of my mom’s death, and it brings back a lot of memories, especially about how beautiful the death process can actually be. 2017 brought death around me again several times, with two clients losing their spouses, and one client dying suddenly in her sleep in her early 60s. Coincidentally, 2017 was also the end of my two year volunteering stent at the Pikes Peak Hospice In-patient Unit. So yeah, death, and the wonders it can bring, are kind of on my mind as this new year begins.
     Now that I have an writing outlet, I want to tell you a bit about my mom’s death. I’ve been wanting to write a book about it for 16 years, but it always seemed like an overwhelming task. I guess a simple blog post is much easier! And way less pressure! Thanks to her faith, and the amazing team at Pikes Peak Hospice, my mom’s death was peaceful and beautiful. In classic Brenda fashion, her death was well orchestrated right up to the end. Organized and perfect. Those who knew her, knew she wanted it that way. She had it all planned out, since she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) about two and half year before. She refused to die until after Alex’s 7th birthday and the meeting of her ex-step daughter’s newborn adopted baby, both the beginning of December. And then there was one last Christmas that she wanted to enjoy as much as she could.
     After that, we could see the decline- it was only a matter of time. She was so worried that her disease would cause her to die of suffocation, as it is often that way with ALS patients. She was also scared of losing her voice and ability to talk before she died. Yes, she was quite the talker– not sure where I got it?! But she was able to use her voice until the last day. It was a Thursday night and we knew that she was taking a turn for the worse. Her heart rate was way up – the nurses said it looked like she had been running around the block, although she hadn’t been out of bed since the last Friday. She was very agitated and talking nonsense. We were just trying to get her to relax so she could sleep, but she just wanted to talk. She finally got to the point where we couldn’t understand what she was saying anymore. Maybe every 50 words or so we would get something, and it was usually, “I’m ready”. She said that many times, along with just a couple of other words we could decipher. We were trying to talk her through this and get her to just relax. We would even close her mouth and tell her it was time to rest, but she would keep talking! Oh yeah, that would probably be me;) Finally about 8:30 PM, we decided to help her sleep. The nurse sedated her but said that she would probably not wake up again, but we were fine with this decision. It took her awhile to go to sleep, but she finally calmed down. Unconscious really. But, there was a strange occurrence in the middle of the night– she went from not talking for a couple of hours and being totally asleep, to stirring and mumbling. The weird thing is that this was right after we noticed her door opening by itself as we were sitting on the couch talking (her childhood friend was with me at hospice that night). Mind you, there are no windows in the unit that actually open, and she was at the end of the hall. Her friend and I looked at each other like deer in headlights: not only did the door just open by itself, but she was trying to talk! We had no idea what was going on, but to this day, both of us truly believe that “someone” came to help her transition from her worldly body. She ‘said’ what she needed to say, and then relaxed again and never made another noise. When we woke up in the morning, things were still basically the same with her. The nurses took me out in the hallway and told me they wanted to do something special for my mom that often helps other dying patients. They wanted to give her a bed bath and get her cleaned up for her “trip”. I told them that it was pretty funny they mentioned a trip since my mom had just mentioned going on a trip the night before. I forgot to tell you that not only did she say she was ready, but she told us she “had her ticket”. Somehow she also managed to ask what time it was in the midst of her mumbling. We would say, “why, are you going somewhere?” And all she’d say again was, “I’ve got my ticket”. We never found out what time she was going on her trip or where she thought she was headed;) So the nurses came in and gave her a bath and washed her hair. If you knew my mom, you knew that she had to look perfect before she went places. So we kept telling her “Brenda, you look beautiful. Your hair is done and your body is washed, and they even put on one of your favorite orange shirts”. Oh, and the lipstick! Don’t forget the lipstick! They got her all tucked back in, looking beautiful and peaceful. The nurses said, “you can do it, Brenda, you can go now”. They guessed it would be anytime that evening. One nurse even said mom probably wouldn’t go until after her shift was over and she was sad she wouldn’t be there. I decided she needed her nails painted – you know, she needed the complete package! So we hunted for the perfect color and I started to paint her nails. While I was painting, my cell phone rang. It was Alex, my daughter, and granny’s “little princess”. She told daddy that she just wanted to call mommy and talk. So I told her that I thought it would be good if she talked to Granny while she was on the phone and told her something important. “Tell granny that you love her”, I said. I held the phone up to my mom’s ear and Alex said, “I love you, Granny”. Mom’s eyebrows raised. Then I said, “tell her that it’s all right to go to heaven now”. So I put the phone back to mom’s ear. “Go to heaven, Granny”. Mom’s eyebrows raised again. I said my goodbyes to Geof and Alex and told them that I needed to finish painting her nails, but I’d let them know how things were going as the day progressed . Three nurses happened to come in as I was finishing the last nail or two. The nurses started talking about how her breathing had suddenly changed. I looked at her peaceful body and could tell that something had indeed changed. One of the nurses said “there you go, good girl, you’re doing great”. I looked at one of the nurses and asked, “is this it?” I looked across in disbelief at my mom’s friend and they all said “yeah, this is it”. It was maybe 10 minutes from the time that I got off the phone with Alex before her breathing totally stopped. Her brows had relaxed from the night before. She was at peace. Everyone in the room was crying. One of the nurses said, “you know what? That was the missing piece”. Earlier, when the nurses got done with her bath, they told us that something was still missing. They asked us if we could think of anything that still needed to be done. We were sure she was at peace and that she had already talked to everyone that she felt she needed to talk to or “settle things” with. We told her that the pastor from Kansas was on his way out and maybe he could talk her through the final transition. Well, it looks like her sweet, little granddaughter giving her permission, was the final piece. It was her little angel whispering in her ear that it was okay to go. She did not suffer at all. The last couple of days she was finally more rested and peaceful than she had been for a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t wish her disease on anyone. It was such a hard decline to see, but God used her, and she touched everyone in her life, not to mention the other patients in hospice.

 

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”     Steve Jobs

 

 

So yeah, my mom’s death was a beautiful experience. It was serene. It was peaceful, with no pain. That is one of the purposes of hospice– to help dying patients be as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Too bad everyone can’t be in hospice at the end. But, her death also sucked! It was painstakingly hard to witness my mom’s last breaths, but amazing at the same time. The woman who brought me into this world, and worked her butt off to do everything she could to make sure I had a great life, was dying right in front of me. But I was there for a reason. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, you might be asking, “why do some people die violent or painful deaths? How can that kind of death be beautiful”? Trust me, I wish I had an answer! As a Christian, I choose to believe that everyone going through death and dying, is in God’s hands, and that He will help them find peace through it, and after it. I have to believe that if someone has been in a horrific crash or was experiencing a painful death, for any reason, that those people will still be able to experience beauty and peace. And I know it’s hard to find any peace and comfort in the death of a loved one, but it is there if you are willing to embrace it. I think the incredible memories we share and love we have for people, can continue on in their deaths and their legacies. I have so many stories about death- some good and some not so good, but it’d all be too long for this blog. Maybe a book is in order…

 

 

 

New year, new you?!

This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t necessarily believe in making them, but it does seem like perfect timing to start over and make changes, especially after the holidays. This is the time of year that many trainers call “job security”. After the month and a half  long “holiday season”, many of us are over stressed, under exercised, and overfed! We can all get out of our normal routines during November and December- the approaching new year is a great excuse to hit the reset button. But I think resolutions can sometimes be overused; people become complacent and “wait til the new year” and companies blast their marketing to take advantage of people who are feeling the “blahs”. The weight loss industry is a $60 billion a year industry (and no doubt you’ve seen the 1000s of daily commercials this past week or two!) Currently, approximately 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, with half of them being in the morbidly obese range! With obesity being one of the leading causes of PREVENTABLE death, why are people so complacent about their health?? Here are just some of the risks of being overweight: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, early onset of arthritis (due to extra weight on joints), mental illness, and unneccesary body pain and loss of movement. A healthy weight is NOT just about vanity or looking good. It’s your life.

And what about a healthy heart?? Here are some of the risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking/tobacco use, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, having an unhealthy diet, and having a family history of heart disease. All of these, but one, can be changed by you! Do you see how weight and heart health are so intertwined? Imagine!?

No matter what you want to call it, it is a new year and you can make those changes! Maybe you simply want to feel better, lose a little weight, be stronger so you can climb a 14’er this summer (it’s a Colorado thing), cut down on your sugar intake (it is the devil, but it’s so good sometimes!), getting off of tobacco, or get off of your blood pressure medication. Well, it IS up to YOU! You have the control of what you will make your body do and what you choose to fuel it with. No one can do it for you (although I wish I could have someone workout for me sometimes!) Figure out what you want to change and why you want to change it. That is usually the easy part for people. Then it is finding a way to actually do it- making yourself accountable is the most important thing. There are lots of ways to do that. Get a device that reminds you to stand up and get moving, or clocks your steps and heart rate. Get an app to log your daily movement and calorie intake. Get a hiking buddy that will commit to hiking with you twice a week. Get a trainer (I happen to know a couple of good ones!) Get a life coach or online trainer who checks in with you (or find an annoying friend who’d be happy to keep bugging you!) Set your alarm to wake up half an hour early so you can get on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes before your day gets started. Set a goal to do a 10 minute, all over body circuit three days a week and then work your way up to longer periods of time. Join one of the diet groups if you need that structure and accountability (Oprah needs more money so she’d be happy to have you join!)

I know I could go on forever about the “why” you should be taking the best care of yourself, and “how” to achieve your goals- remember, I do get paid to listen to people give me excuses every day;) We all have excuses though, but I believe we all want to feel the best we can, lower disease risks, be alive to enjoy our loved ones as long as possible, and have a good quality of life. I admit there’s some vanity to my lifestyle, but I mostly want to keep being able to run and play with my grandchildren, and watch them grow up and have children of their own. I want to avoid further progression of my MS and decrease chances of debilitating symptoms. I’m not ready to slow down (or have someone help me up from the floor when I decide to drop it too low on the dance floor!)

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My two little motivators…

I hope I gave you something to think about, and that you can find at least one way to make a positive change to your health in 2018. Don’t put it off another year or another month- this is your only life, your only body, and your health! If you don’t do it, who will? Blessings to you and your loved ones, and may 2018 be a happy, healthy NEW YEAR!