Health – Don’t Take It for Granted

It is so easy when you are healthy to think you will always be so. I have been lucky enough to live a life where I took my health for granted, most of the time. After two family members where hospitalized 8 month apart, to the day, I am given a wake up call as to the importance of appreciating and taking care of your health.

The morning of the 5th day, in the year I had dubbed “The Year of Health”, my husband woke up with chest pain. I had no idea the events that were about to begin unfolding. My husband is a healthy, active man. We hike, he shovels snow for 8 houses in the winter, takes the stairs over the elevator and is focused about getting his 10,000 steps a day. I never imagined that under the surface this insidious disease was slowly but continually preparing to change our lives.

What I thought would be a trip to the ER to “be safe rather than sorry” turned our world upside. My 50 year old husband had had a heart attack. We kept our chins up; positive thoughts bring about positive results. We were sure that, during the procedure to assess what was going on with the vessels that supply blood to the heart, the doctors would be able to put stents in to repair the blockages. Once again we were shocked. The amount of disease that was found requires a quadruple bypass to repair. Family history was one of the factors, which was shared, as a reason why there would be this level of disease in a man this age.

As we await his surgery, I think how can this be true of my strong and active husband. I just always took it for granted that we would both remain healthy and be able to continue our active lifestyle, traveling, hiking, camping, and kayaking. I know that this surgery is a second chance. I know that it gives us a chance to start again. He will have new healthy vessels on his heart. Though we can not change the family history, we can work together through diet and exercise to make modification that will help to keep this disease at bay. Making these adjustments in our lifestyle will be our way of saying, “Thank you” everyday for our health. Appreciating, whatever level of health we currently have and continually striving to reach the next level of health available to us. Whatever that may be.

I am grateful for the health we have today. I am grateful for the even better level of health we will have in the future. I will never again take my health or that of my family for granted.

May you appreciate your health, at whatever level it is at. I wish you every happiness. I love you!

12 Reasons to Get into Nature!

Where I live, you can see the change of season coming. Some of the leaves are already starting to turn bright colors. This is one of the signs that Summer is coming to an end as it does every year. So here comes Autumn! I love all of the seasons for different reasons but Autumn is truly my favorite. I love the crispness in the air, the crunch and smell of the leaves on the forest floor as you hike, and the beautiful colors that splash onto the canvas of the world. I enjoy getting out in the kayak or on the hiking trails in the Fall. Exploring what I have seen before, but now looks entirely different. In the Winter, when the temperatures here dip below zero, I often find it hard to get outside and be a part of Nature. But I still try. Last year it was dogsledding in Northern MN. Finally Spring, rebirth and return of the sun. Always appreciated. Here are some reasons for all of us to remember the importance of getting outside (and into Nature) no matter what the weather.


1.        It gives you room to breathe – Removing the walls and the ceiling around you can give you the opportunity to see the sky, relax and just breathe.IMG_9974

2.        It lowers stress – The sounds of the birds and rustle of the trees, the clean smell of the air, the sun on your face; it can all help reduce stress and anxiety.IMG_5938

3.        It helps to keep your clock set- The natural light of the outdoors can help to reset your internal clock. Your brain responds to the sun on your face. IMG_1088

4.        You realize you are part of something bigger – The web of life happens all around us, all the time. When we spend time in nature, we can see how we fit into this bigger world.IMG_2486

5.        There are amazing things to see – There are so many things waiting for you around the next turn. Beautiful things are available for your five senses in all seasons. You only have to get out there.IMG_9876

6.        Feel more alive – Have you ever sat on a covered front porch and watched a lightning storm? You feel so alive with the wind, the electricity in the air, splashes of light and booming thunder putting on a show. There are so many of these experiences in Nature!IMG_4515

7.        Be inspired – So many outdoor sights can be inspiring. Whether it is the bumble bee making its way from flower to flower, a beautiful waterfall, or breathtaking rock formation – from the small to the large, Nature can be very inspiring. IMG_1813

8.        You time – It gives you time to unwind and step away from all of the “to do’s” on your list. Laying in the sun, swimming in the surf, or walking through the forest; it gives you some space to honor yourself. IMG_8501

9.        Just full of analogies – I, have many times, been out in Nature and noticed something that I can see as an analogy for my life. For example, once I saw how a beaver had built his house. I thought about the hardworking beaver. He doesn’t complain. He just gets to work and gets it done. Then he can go for a swim and relax. IMG_1044

10.     Experiences – I think most of my favorite experiences have happened outside. After all, it was an impulsive BWCA trip that inspired this whole journey that led to blogging and Adventure Sister Emy! IMG_8513

11.     Bonding time – My grandmother used to take me on Nature walks to pick wild flowers. I took my own daughters on fairy hunting treks and my grandchildren have gone kayaking with me. Whether it is friends or family, time in Nature can be such a lovely bonding experience. IMG_2489

12.     Appreciation – Finding things to be grateful for attracts more blessings into our lives. When you look around outside, there is so much to be grateful for and appreciate. IMG_9500


I am sure there are many more reasons other than these 12. Get outside today! Enjoy the weather, as is, without wishing for it to be anything other than what it is. Take a moment to be thankful for all the beauty that the natural world gives us.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be filled with opportunities to get out in Nature, as if by Magic!

***No Trees, insects, or birds were harmed in the making of the art on the featured image of this blog. All items were found on nature walks.


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How I Learned to Love My Body Again

Think about being a child, care free in your appearance. How free that must feel. I watch my stepson and grandchildren. They will put on some goofy thing and know they look good. Body image is such a struggle for so many today. How can we heal this within ourselves?
My own struggles with body image started very young. I can remember being in elementary school and thinking I was fat. I am not sure where the initial problem started from. Was it my grandmother saying I should wear dark colors because they were slenderizing? Was it the kid on the play ground who called me a 2000 pound Tyrannosaurus rex? Could it have been noticing that clothes did not look on me the way they looked on my Barbie Dolls? Whatever the reason, from a young age, my body image sucked! It started a vicious cycle of dieting and binging that carried on until my late 30’s when eventually I had gastric bypass surgery. I lost 113.5 as a result of the surgery. I looked amazing, at least with my clothes on. Without them my skin hung and sagged. Without the fat I had way more skin than I needed. Stretch marks from years of weight gain made a map across my body. My breasts hung, more than a little, lower than were they belonged. I still felt disgusting. I consulted with a plastic surgeon to have skin pealed off of my body so that other skin could be pulled up and the folds would be decreased. Even after the surgery my body would not resemble those molded plastic fashion dolls of my youth. At least my body would be a little less gross. I scheduled the surgery.
At that time I was doing online dating. It struck me sometime before the plastic surgery that this was not the correct option for me. I needed to learn to love myself as is, otherwise how could anyone else love me? The kind of man I was looking for was the kind who could look past people faults and love the beautiful soul inside. I canceled surgery and decided any man who wanted me would have to be able to love this body with all of its mileage. I started working on loving myself. I started working on improving my feelings about my body.
I started small. Noticing aspects of my body that I did like was a way to begin. My toes are cute. I have strong legs. Parts of me that were easy to love paved the way to loving all of me. I found a great hair stylist. Which taught me my frizzy, out of control hair was actually full of really fun curls. Then the shopping began. The jeans and t-shirts were pushed to the back of the closet. Dresses now hung in the front. Pretty girly things that made me feel like a woman. I embraced my femininity. Changing my dating profile from “a few extra pounds” to “curvy” really helped me embrace my body as sexy, even if I still felt it was imperfect.
I did find a man who loves me as is. He is a beautiful and kind soul. The year we were married, Emy and I were planning our annual BWCA (Boundary Water Canoe Area) trip. These trips have morphed from fun adventures into an opportunity to work on wellness and self improvement. We still have lots of fun but they are now so much more. In the bags I included a pack of metallic pastel colored pertinent markers. “A fun activity for our trip, awaits in the bags”, I told Emy. Letting the anticipation of surprise speak to the little girl in her. All the while the little girl in me was relishing this idea.
As we sat on our private island in the BWCA, near our campfire, drinking tea, and watching the sun glisten off the lake, I produced the markers. “We are going to write message of love to our body”. She lit up. We set to work covering our bodies in words of appreciation and things we wanted to manifest for ourselves. When we were done the metallic ink sparked in the afternoon sun. Words such a strength, love, beauty, temperance, feminine, courage, and support adorned our bodies amidst peace symbols, flowers, vines, hearts, and other symbolic drawings. It was a transformative experience.
I am more comfortable with my body now than I have been since I was a very young child. I still have moments, but for the most part, I love my body. I love every line and fold. Even that parts that don’t sit as high as they once did, receive appreciation and loving kindness from me.

What struggles do you have with your body image? Do you have helpful tricks you can share with others?

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have loving kindness for your body!

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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, like so many beautiful areas, may be at risk from exploitation. If you feel so moved please sign the petition below to save this amazing natural resource!