Saturday, July 29, 2017

Creating Strength.

In the last two weeks, I've been put through a series of health tests. Not because there was anything wrong but because I feel the need to check things out every few years. Bottom line: I'm fine. 

But the medical establishment fueled by the drug companies would, unfortunately, like me to be fearful, worried about random sets of numbers on an ever sliding scale that they set up to scare us into taking drugs. In my case, though my weight, blood pressure, diet and exercise regime is very healthy, the arbitrary 'cholesterol' numbers are now considered high. Of course, they want me to take statin drugs, which cause a whole set of very unhealthy side effects. 

Say no to drugs.

In case you're wondering, I have studied the whole cholesterol scare since I was in college. My uncle, a biochemist, actually studied food, like eggs, and cholesterol. His conclusion: food is not the problem. Even with those findings, a whole marketing program began in the 50's to sell the American people on fake eggs and margarine. We all know now, how that really turned out. My uncle was right and the medical establishment was wrong. 

The bottom line is cholesterol is essential to your brain health, as well as other things, and while there is some debate as to its effect on heart health, it is only one of many factors to consider. I won't go into it now, but if you're curious Google, The Cholesterol Myth, a book written about how the facts have been re-written for a number of reasons including medical and corporate profits. 

Celebrate health. 

That's what I've decided to do. How can I do that and can we all do that? Yes. 

Instead of adding up calories or following the latest advice trends, why not listen to my body. Everyday, I can ask myself: what does my body really want? Sometimes, it's food, sometimes, not. Sometimes, my body wants a good, long walk. Time in the studio. A bubble bath. A yoga class. A good book to read. Or a silly video that gives me a good hearty laugh. 

Walking in the woods revives me in so many ways. Yoga moves both in and out of class make me feel both strong and flexible. Taking time to still my monkey mind from swinging from thought to thought creates clarity. A good hug, kiss or giggle lifts my heart. 

Creating strength begins with me. 

From the inside out, I strive to honor and create strength in body, mind and soul. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? For me, it takes conscious thought, action and awareness everyday. 

I choose as much as I can, moment to moment. I try not to get sucked into the fear surrounding me. When I see a drug commercial, I turn the sound off.  When I hear food fears or ageist thinking, I try to see it for what it is: propaganda.

My life isn't about sculpting a perfect body with diet, exercise, surgery or drugs. My life is about living, loving, creating and most of all, enjoying the beauty and strength of being on this earth right now. Today. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Confessions of a Technophobe.

I admit: I'm technophobic. When it comes time to push that post, upload, or share button, I cringe and expect it to all crash. I know it sounds crazy because I've had a blog, Facebook page, Instagram and website for almost a decade but I still fear the worst. 

I'm terrified of websites. In my nightmare, I push the button and KABLAM, my site turns black and my computer blows up into bits all around the room. I lose everything, my blog, my passwords, my photos, all of my writing. Everything.  

Time to jump off the website building.

I've had a website, thanks to my talented son, for over 10 years. He's had computer graphic design classes and knows how to use Adobe like a pro. My websites have always looked amazing and I'm very grateful. But now he's busy with work, his daughter and studying for his MBA. 

So it's time for me to figure this out and I'm terrified and it's not the first time. I bought a website builder 3 years ago that was advertised as easy, quick and simple with drag and drop templates. If I could design my blog on blogspot with easy templates, surely I could do this website builder, right? Wrong.  It was awful. Nothing worked as advertised and the money back guarantee only meant a guarantee I'd never get my money back. 

My son, once again, came to my rescue. But, this time, I am on my own. 

I searched the web for easy website builders that would allow me to use my own domain name that I've had for 10 years. Just in case you are as in the dark as I was about all those 'free' website builders out there, let me shine some light for you here. They are NOT FREE. 

They do offer free template designs. But you have to pay them for a domain name and hosting and also in some cases, carry pop up ads on your site. I also found out that you don't own your own content, so if they decide to close down, you lose everything you put into and on your site. 

How to conquer computer terror? Sneak up on it.

I froze for quite a few weeks but in the end, I had to have a new website. Period. I was tired of spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I wanted to feel in control of my online content, it was time to learn to control my technophobia. 

After much surfing, which is code for procrastination, I chose Wordpress. I read through the start guide, which promised a website in an hour. Ha. Maybe for non-technophobes. The only way I could approach this project was to go very slowly like a teenager learning to drive. 

Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go.

First, I got out my trusty pen and notebook and outlined all the elements I wanted on my site. I outlined the pages I wanted. Created an album of photos I'd use. Wrote my copy. That's my comfort zone - writing on paper. I had my notebook beside me as my security blanket when I finally opened up my Wordpress page and every time I worked on the site.

While my husband watched golf, which I find relaxing, I sat down and worked on it online for maybe 2 hours. Then I took 2 days or more off. I'd do another page or two. Take more days off. Carefully very carefully, I'd click on create a menu. Take 2 weeks off. Edit a page or two. Take more days off. In between, I'd visit it just to make sure it hadn't blown up, crashed or disappeared. It didn't.

Today, my website: is UP!

Yes, it took me 30 days to get my website designed, uploaded and running. I had to push that UPLOAD button many, many times and each time, it got a little easier. The panic slowly subsided and morphed into accomplishment. But not confidence, not yet. 

Hello, my name is Susan and I'm a technophobe. 

Because I'm still holding my breath and wondering if I can wrap it in bubble wrap. Just in case. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mondays with Meyer: Be Lazy.

As I write the headline, I realize there is a big pull in my gut against the word, lazy. It brings up many bad thoughts, words and pictures from deep within. I know it is societal conditioning from early childhood to always 'do' something. And by doing something I will 'be' someone. 

Do. Be. Do. Be. Do.

Hmmm, I wonder what if the line started and ended with Be?

This week, Meyer was in a different toddler mood. Some might call it clingy or insecure or tired or mellow. She wanted to sip juice and listen to a music on the Raffi channel. We sat and read the same two books over and over.  Both my favorites by the way, "Frederick" by Lio Leoni and "The Very Hungry Catepillar" by Eric Carle. She made soup from rocks and splashed in a pan of bubbly water but mostly, we nestled together in the big, black, cushy leather chair. 

She dozed, snacked and sipped and listened to the wind chimes. After lunch, she napped. We picked blueberries and ate them. We made peanut butter and graham cracker sandwiches. And watched an episode of Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids while she sipped and snuggled some more. 

Be. Do nothing. 

It occurred to me after she left to go home, that I would never in a million years call a toddler, lazy. Instead, I saw her as needing rest and at the same time, in her stillness, watching her hear her world around her. The neighbors lawnmower. Crows cawing. Ringing wind chimes. Airplanes flying overhead. She was truly be-ing in the moments of her day. 

How often do I even hear the wind chimes, airplanes, crows? Or pick warm, fresh blueberries and pop them in my mouth? Or swish sweet-scented bubbles around with my hands for the pure feel of it? Or close my eyes and just take a nap?

Doing nothing doesn't mean being nothing. It means being in every moment without having to do everything. Try it. Put yourself in a comfy place, let your head flop back, and close your eyes. 

Be. Brave. Be. Lazy. Be Do Be Do Be. 

Another lesson learned from my Mondays with Meyer.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Filling Empty Bowls with Hope.

Fourth of July means many things to many people but to me, it means volunteering for the Oregon Food Bank. I help set up a Oregon Potter's Association booth at the Waterfront Blues Festival where donated pottery and glass is sold and 100% of the proceeds goes directly to the local food bank. 

I donate over $100 of pottery I make as well. I volunteer 12-15 hours or more each year onsite during the 3-5 day festival. I stock shelves, put up displays and wrap up purchases. Yes, I also sell my ceramics for the last few days of the festival. But I lower my prices by 50%, as well as give another 25% from my sales directly to the food bank. 

It's not about making money. It's about giving back. 

You see, for years before I made bowls, cups, or vases, I bought them at the Empty Bowls Booth to benefit the Food Bank. Even when I was scared for my own family, I bought a bowl because I needed to hope. 

I know what it's like to fear for basic survival. To wonder if I'd have enough to feed everyone in my home. When my husband was laid off a decade ago, we had two children living at home and going to college. We couldn't afford Cobra healthcare and have a roof over our heads and eat. We all worked part time jobs to keep us going. And still, we found a few dollars to buy a bowl at the OPA booth. 


My husband bought a blue and black bowl that year. It wasn't very expensive, because it couldn't be. It wasn't big, either, just a cereal or soup bowl size. But I saw it as a symbol of hope. 

I filled it with some pennies, added water and put it on the small table by the window. When I found a few blooming flowers in the garden, I added them too. And every day, when I walked by, I saw that the bowl wasn't empty but full. I saw it as a symbol that the void in our lives would be once again, filled. That we would all survive. That we would all be safe. That maybe, just maybe, we would even thrive. 


A decade has passed since then and we've survived and thrived. It's not been an easy road, and it's continued to twist and turn, but in the big picture, we made it through. Jobs, graduations, opportunities allowed us all to move onward and upward. For that, I am very grateful. 

On this 4th of July, I am once again in the OPA Empty Bowls booth. But in addition to buying a bowl to feed the hungry, I'm filling shelves with my own bowls to feed the hungry and my soul. 

This is what makes America Great, not again, but always: the spirit of generosity in all of US.