Best Gift Ever!

best_gift If you had told me that the best gift I would ever receive in my life would be an old-fashioned bicycle horn, I would have thought you were crazy! I received this perfect gift three years ago. It arrived in a care package from my sister and brother-in-law, designed to cheer me up as I prepared for my scheduled bilateral mastectomy. Of all the lovely, thoughtful, heartfelt gifts I received during that time, none could beat this horn.

Here James

Those early days after surgery when my body needed rest and sleep, my husband would sneak out of the bedroom early taking our Scottie dog Dolley with him, leaving me to rest and repair. When I would finally wake, I would reach for my horn (strategically placed close to me, as reaching wasn’t easy after surgery) and toot the horn until Randall and Dolley showed up. I enjoyed this SO much!! It made me smile just squeezing the soft bubble of the horn, and of course I loved that it brought the love of my life to my side!

This would go on for some time.

The surprising thing is, it would go on longer than I expected. I am constantly amazed at how the physical body can heal. I watched and documented in photographs, my entire healing process and there would be visible difference from day to day. I was in awe of my body for all that it was doing. The more surprising part for me was that all this healing and mending takes energy and I was obviously giving a lot of that up to this process. This meant that I slept a lot! This also meant that my horn became my best friend when I woke. Now, as time went on, sure I could have popped out of bed on my own and gone downstairs to find my husband…but that’s not nearly as fun as tooting a horn and having him lovingly appear!

Music to my ears

Never once did I hear Randall complain about the noise. He just kept showing up, cheery as ever. He would plump up my pillows and bring me a lovely cup of tea and this was my life for a surprising length of time.

Never could say goodbye

Three years later, and this horn still sits by my bed and I still use it on occasion…maybe when I need a wee lie-in on a Sunday morning to recharge. Mostly, I just love the comfort of having it there and all that it now symbolizes to me. So yes, as unlikely as it may seem, this horn was the “best gift ever” and if you should ever know anyone going through a similar experience, I would highly recommend it as a thoughtful, powerful and darned practical gift! Toot toot! email_signoff1  

Shattered but Not Broken

shattered Today the unthinkable happened to me. I dropped a mirror and it shattered!! I gasped as I looked at it on the floor and of course my first thought went immediately to the superstition “that’ll be 7 years of bad luck”. A few years ago I would have totally bought into this, but not today! I quickly regrouped, picked the mirror off the floor and told it “You don’t have power over me”. It felt good to look defiantly at the cracks and see things differently. My next thought was, “where’s a ladder? I need to walk under one”! I used to be the queen of superstition. It’s so interesting how this has shifted and I didn’t even really notice it happen, until I was confronted by this incident.

When did this happen? Why did this happen? How did this happen?

I can only imagine that the past three-ish years of my life are responsible for many changes in me, some of which I’m only just finding out about. I have dealt with much worse than a shattered mirror and I’ve proven to myself that I cannot be broken. No superstition can scare me or control me. I have proven to myself that I’m in charge of my life, my health, my destiny. I am not a victim and I’m certainly not a victim to an old wives tale.

Damn, I’m feeling bold and powerful!

As small and silly of a thing as this seems, it’s just another marker in the progress I’ve made. I feel like my life has taken on a whole new dimension. I wake up everyday excited and ready to work on my passions; nutrition, prevention, health…and of course, my blog!

I am always looking forward.

And I have SO much to look forward to. I can hardly wait to begin my new Masters in Nutrition program in January. The very thought of all I can learn and the potential good I can then do with that information, makes me positively giddy. I was thinking just the other day, about the fact that prior to this blog, I’ve never really written before. I’m all too aware of the fact that I’m not “technically” a great writer and will never be classified as a “writer” as such. However, I’m perfectly OK with that because my desire was never to be a “writer” but a “communicator”. I see those things very differently. My goal is not to write the next great American novel, but to learn all that I can about health and nutrition and in turn pass this information on to others, in the simplest, most appealing way possible. So, I thank my broken mirror for yet another good reminder of the new, powerful life that I have. One that I’m grateful for everyday. It was a long, windy, bumpy road to this place but I don’t regret any of it. I am who I am because of every crack I crossed and all those cracks have brought me to a place of feeling whole. Are you superstitious? How does it affect your life? Would you like to try to leave those superstitious thoughts behind you and join me in my new found freedom? Please share, we’d love to hear. email_signoff1

Reduced Visibility

Do you ever feel like you’re turning in on yourself?

As I looked out at the fog hanging heavily over my house this morning, the first thought I had was that it was going to be a blah, dreary day. DSC_0008

Fog used to be a BIG part of my life.

Scotland is well known for its foggy days and when I was growing up I never saw fog as a positive or beautiful thing. I think about the times we’d be driving around Loch Lomond and the fog would be so thick that we’d barely be moving and my poor dad would have the side window down with his head sticking out of it and trying to drive at the same time. Quite a challenge! Fog seemed to me to cause difficulty and danger. Sometimes I just thought of fog as something that blocked my view. I resented it for this. Why did it have to hang around and hide things? Over the years I’ve come to love and appreciate the beauty of fog in certain situations though. Driving though Glencoe I’m constantly gasping at the beauty of the mountains with the fog suspended between them. The sight of fog hovering over water is also hard to beat. Now I appreciate the haunting quality that fog brings to the land and seascape.

Today I had a new thought as I looked out at the fog.

I thought how nice it is not to be able to see too far way or too far ahead. How it was comforting to feel enclosed and cozy. Safe and sound. Surrounded and protected. I felt like the fog was giving me permission to turn inward. There is so much visual stimulation in our lives. Everywhere we look there’s something to take our minds off one thing and on to the next, or distract us in some way.

I felt as though I was being forced to look inward instead of outside myself.

When we are encouraged to look “in” instead of “out”, we have the opportunity to see something we may otherwise miss. Think about something we may otherwise not give time to. Ponder or solve a problem. Access our creativity.

I can see clearly now!

Fog can certainly change our day, but it doesn’t have to be in a negative way, the way I used to see it. Fog can actually help you see further than you ever thought possible. Further into yourself, your mind, your heart, your soul. So the next time the fog rolls in, I’m going to take full advantage of what might lie within, instead of what lies outside myself. How do you feel about fog? Are you a fan? How does fog change your day or how you feel? Please share below, we’d love to hear. email_signoff1    

The “Yes” Express

IMG_2244 “I’d love to, but I’m afraid I’m just too busy that day, but let’s get a date on the calendar, that does work”. “I’d love to help at the event but I’m already volunteering at a fundraiser that same week”. These things aren’t hard to say and yet somehow or other, when we are in the moment, often these are not the words that come out. We end up saying “Of course, I’d love to help” or “I’ll be there” or “Yes, I’ll host that” or any number of similar answers. We just seem to have a hard time saying “NO”!

Jingle Bells

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for many people. There’s decorating and shopping to be done, baking and cooking. We want to see all our family, friends and colleagues. There are parties and open houses and dinners and on and on. How wonderful it all sounds! However, a couple of weeks at this pace and you may find yourself tired and grumpy before we’re even half way through December, which is not wonderful at all! Of course we want to do as many fun things as possible and if you are good with a hectic pace, go for it! However, for some of us it’s important to set boundaries and save a little time and energy so that we can enjoy the season. I remember the days when I would cram it all in, and be so exhausted by the end of the year that I inevitably started the New Year with a bad cold and sore throat.

My Proposal

I don’t want you to think of it in terms of saying “no” to someone or something but instead think of it as saying “yes” to yourself! We all love the word “yes”. It has such a nice soft sound to it. It’s fun to say and good to hear.
When you say “no” to an invitation or obligation that could cause you stress, what you’re really doing is saying, “yes” to you, and you’re worth it!!

“Yes” is More!

Saying, “yes” to yourself is like telling yourself how valuable you are. How worthy you are of care and consideration. You’re telling yourself you’re important, and your needs are valid. When you say, “yes” to yourself you’re also setting a good example for your family, friends, and children. People will respect you when you set these boundaries. Lead by example and set the tone for others. When you get through the season with ease and are able to enjoy every moment with your friends or loved ones, and maintain good health and cheer, others will take note. It is not selfish but sensible. What good are you to anyone if you deplete yourself or compromise your own life or health? We naturally want to make others happy (which is a nice thing) but we shouldn’t always do this at the expense of ourselves. You don’t have to always be the one to host the family gathering or make the entire meal. Find ways to share the responsibilities with others. And don’t feel bad about declining an invitation (as lovely it is to receive them) because you have multiple commitments that same week and you need a little time to recharge or to work on your own projects or passions. Unless of course you actually enjoy wrapping presents at 2 a.m.!

Say “yes” to...  

yourself

your health

your body

your well being

your needs

your spirit

your passions

your dreams

your choices

your ideas

If saying, “yes” to someone else compromises your life in some way, then you seriously need to think about saying, “yes” to yourself instead! I spent years saying, “yes” to things and people that didn’t serve me. How did that work out for me? Not so well! I have worked hard at learning to say “yes” to myself instead. It takes practice but I can report that I have gotten rather good at it! Trust me, the more you practice doing it, the easier it gets. You quickly see and feel the difference it makes in your life and then there’s no going back. The power of saying, “yes” to yourself builds and builds. So, get on the “yes” express with me now, and feel the difference for yourself! How are you at saying, “yes” to yourself and your needs? Do you have any tips to share to help us all out as we navigate the holiday season? Please share below, we’d love to hear!  email_signoff1

A “Proper” Thank You!

Growing up in Scotland, we of course, didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t long after I moved to the U.S. that I realized what an important holiday it is to people here, and I can now understand why.

There’s no place like home!

It’s one of the few holidays that everyone wants to be “home” for. No matter where they are, how long the journey might be or how uncooperative the weather, there is a need to be with “your people”. It feels to me, that it’s a more important holiday to many people than Christmas (and Christmas is pretty darn important!). I’ve spent Thanksgiving in countless homes over the years, generously being embraced by friends and family happy to take in “just one or two more”, so I’ve seen a few different traditions along the way. uYrwXZnU5F828k32SElIiGLmjk9KZeRq5WIcwFKCmIs

What are you thankful for?

Without a doubt, the tradition that unifies all my experiences is that of everyone taking turns around the dinner table to say what they are thankful for. Such a lovely thing to do!

Turning the tables.

However, last Thanksgiving day, I spent the entire day writing emails to people who I felt the need and desire to thank. People who had touched my life in such a significant way that a short card just wouldn’t do! Last Thanksgiving happened to fall on the anniversary of my first surgery (bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction, November 27th, 2012, which was also my lovely dad’s birthday!) so it was a memorable date for me and that it fell on Thanksgiving day that year, it just seemed appropriate to spend my day thanking some of the people who helped me through that time.

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A “proper” thank you!

Shortly before this, I had listened to a talk on “thanking”. What I loved about it was that it made me realize that it’s so important to be specific when you write a thank you. If someone has made a huge impact on your life in some way, tell them! It’s not enough to simply write “thanks for everything”, “I couldn’t have done it without you”, or “thanks for being there”. If someone made that big of a contribution to your life, then they deserve to hear, in detail, exactly how. How they made you feel, specifically how they helped or encouraged you, how they changed your life for the better and how you think of them often because of all they did.

A new tradition.

I know you’re all very busy on this special day, but maybe take a little time and write a “proper” thank you to someone who you’ve never really thanked properly for something they’ve done to change your life. Imagine how special they will feel and how good you will feel for having done it. A very BIG Thank you to you ALL for reading my post! Happy Thanksgiving! xox email_signoff1_name    

A Familiar Face

I recently recalled a memory from my childhood, so that I could “view it” again and include my recollection of it in my college application essay. It’s been quite some time since I went to college the first time, and I barely remember writing such a thing?! After I was a few paragraphs in, I thought maybe I should Google how to actually write a college essay?! I found more tips than I could read through, but in the few I did, they all suggested including an anecdote. Given that I was applying for a Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health, I thought it would be good if my anecdote was food related.

Poof!

There I was, maybe 10 years old standing in my auntie Mary’s kitchen in North Tolsta on the Isle-of-Lewis (the most northerly of the Hebridean islands off the northwest coast of Scotland). This small village at the end of the road was where I spent all my summers growing up and many of my fondest childhood memories are from this magical place. It was a typical day at 49 North Tolsta. There was a huge pot of soup on the stove along with the tea kettle, which was a permanent fixture. I asked auntie Mary what kind of soup she was making that day and she reached into the pot and pulled out a sheep’s head. I looked into the space where its eyes had been and gasped in horror, which I know auntie Mary thoroughly enjoyed! Auntie Mary knew I was a bit squeamish about things like that. Although I loved the island and the way of life, it was only mine for 3 months of the year and so I wasn’t fully immersed in the culture. DSC_0136

Family fun :)

Looking back there were many occasions when auntie Mary either humored me, or used me for entertainment purposes. Like the time she sent me to the hen house to collect the eggs. She gave me a basket and sent me off. It was dark in there despite it being morning. There were wooden boxes filled with straw suspended by rope from the ceiling that made comfy nesting boxes for the hens. One box was empty and I was excited to see a couple of eggs in it and promptly popped them in my basket. Plump hens had taken up residence in the rest. My instructions were that if the hens were in the box, I should just slip my hand under them and collect the eggs. Right! I tried, really I did, but I was sure that they were going to peck me every time my hand got close. I went outside to find a stick, thinking I could gently prod them and encourage them to stand up. This didn’t go too well either! This tactic gained me one more egg and having given it my best, I headed back to the house. Auntie Mary looked in the basket and seemed surprised by the 3 eggs. Sheepishly I told her that’s all the eggs there were. Years later, I found out that she knew all along but had sent just me for fun!

Daisy, Daisy!

Every evening my uncle Murdo would bring the cow home from its day of grazing to be milked. Auntie Mary would sit there on the small wooden stool and make milking a cow look easy peasy. Over the years there were a few different cows in the barn. I saw all animals as pets and so naturally I wanted to know the cow’s name. Auntie Mary told me it was Daisy. Years would go by and no matter the cow, whenever I asked, it was always Daisy. It's just nice that she humored me :) IMG_7347

The wrap.

You’re probably all wondering how on earth I wrapped my Auntie Mary stories into my essay? Well, I kept it brief and just focused on the sheep’s head soup. I wrapped it in by saying that we hear all the time that there’s a health crisis in this country. We have moved so far away from the way our grandparents (and for some of us, our parents) ate and we need to find our way back, in some reasonable, realistic modern day way to this method of eating – real, whole foods! I then recalled my summer’s on Lewis where everyone had a croft where they grew vegetables and feed for their animals, they had a cow, a few sheep, chickens and at least one member of the family was usually a commercial fisherman and luckily for me that was my cousin Donald Murdo. Queue the sheep’s head story. I look back on these days and I know I was eating a healthy, nutritious diet full of homegrown, homemade real food and how valuable and precious that was. Although, I wouldn’t mind not having the image of that sheep’s head burned into my memory! I’m not sure if this is what did it or not, but thankfully they accepted me in the program and I start this exciting new chapter January 2016. Thanks for the memories, Auntie Mary! DSC_0042 Do you have any strong childhood memories? Share below. email_signoff1_name