Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Making Our Dreams Happen

I go to the rodeo every year and enjoy it immensely, living vicariously through all the riders (except the bull riders). I've only really been riding myself for 7 years, since my husband and I met. And it's just been trail riding so I'm not a real serious rider, although I do love it. Those times when my horse Hershey and I have become one are so memorable to me. We run down through the wash, hat flying off my back, the fragrance of leather and creosote blowing by and all that matters is that moment - good times. At the rodeo, I know that those riders feel that all the time and what a blessing it must be to have that ability. I'm working on it!

One of my favorites is the barrel racing - cheering the women as they beat it through the sand after the last barrel! There was a little five-year old girl who competed this year. OMG, what a little pistol! This tiny little thing on this big old horse, and she owned that horse - he (or she) was doing what she asked him to do. I had to attach a couple of pix and I hope you like them.

I so admire women who step out and get it done. No excuses, just do it. I love it and I applaud them and all of you out there who are making your dreams happen. We're kickin' it! Whoohoo!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For the Love of Dogs

Today is the 8th annual Animal Fair in Tucson and I'm taking my Number One cocker, Lucy, to mingle with all the dogs and people. She loves it. She'll bark her head off for the first few minutes, but then she settle down and just enjoy all the smells and petting and being with me. She's also a "visit dog" and we may stop by the assisted living home first before the Fair today. The people there love it when she comes and always remark how soft she is. She gets lots of attention so it's a win-win.

Of course she gets a bath the day she goes, so these days whenever she's had her bath, she's waiting by the door all excited to go somewhere. Might be there, might be somewhere else. She brought so much joy into our lives that we have two more cockers now. Lots of grooming, but they're little bundles of affection - each one of them: Lucy, Dizzy and Charlie.

I am a huge dog lover, obviously. What about your dogs? Do you have one or a few? What do they do for your lives? Would love to hear.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Workarounds are Our Friends

I love that the days are getting longer and it's staying light a little later. My dogs don't seem to get quite as much exercise in the winter because they depend on me to walk them. But it's dark when I go to work and dark when I come home during those deep winter months and I don't like walking them in the dark. I hear packs of howling coyotes nearby, and bobcats are lurking around and my little cockers look like a tasty dinners for all of them. So we have to do workarounds to keep them healthy. We play ball and frisbee in the backyard during the week and do long walks on the weekend during daylight hours, so we've made it work. They do get a little leaner though in the summer!

Life doesn't always arrange itself to our liking, does it? Stuff happens, life changes and boom - suddenly we haven't gotten any exercise in a week, two weeks and we're feeling it. So workarounds need to be part of our lives, too. Compare the oak tree to the palm tree. In a big storm, there are an awful lot of uprooted oaks, but those palms bend and twist and mostly stay put, bobbing back up again when it's all over. We have to be palms. Be flexible. Keep living!

My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago and had his left lung removed shortly after that. We always used to walk before that, but after surgery he wasn't so sure. But we started back anyway. At first just to the end of our short cul de sac, then around the corner; then father. Early on we visited our property up in the mountains and I had to literally pull him up the hill from the lake. Just no breath at that altitude. But at home we kept walking, month after month.

Six months after our first trip to the mountains following surgery and many walks later, we had been down at the lake and we headed back up the hill. Les went first and I hung back watching. He just trucked up that hill with his one lung, no help from me and didn't even notice he did it. I ran up jumping up and down. " Do you know what you just did! Yippee!" He was thrilled.

He knew he had to get strength and breath back. He did what he needed to do, one little step at a time to get his life back. He's a survivor. He's had two more cancer surgeries and he just keeps chugging along doing what it takes to regain his health each time. I'm very proud of him. He's beat the odds. It's all gravy from here.

Do what it takes. Little steps count. Don't stop. Just work around the problem.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

To all my friends, family and all the wonderful, strong women I have yet to greet, have a Valentines Day that is full of peace, joy and rest. Especially the rest part!

Supersize the Broccoli; Hold the Fries

I have been laughing at the latest Subway commercials that show someone pulling up to a fast food restaurant drive-thru window and as they are handed their order, their van collapses to one side. Another person breaks their chair as they take a bite of a burger, and so on.

I laugh because in some presentations I've made in the past, I have asked the audience, "If your right arm fell off immediately after eating a bag of french fries, would you ever eat french fries again? Of course not, and there is always lots of nervous laughing. But we're killing ourselves using that same empty-calorie, carcinogenic method - just ever so slowly. Our incredible bodies take a lot of abuse before the results ever start showing up. Lulls us into a false sense of health. Poor nutrition is part of an unhealthy lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyles stop life early for more than 50 percent of Americans who die every year. Wow, we have control over our lifestyles! Let's take control!

Did you know that the average American eats 200 lbs. of sugar annually? Aaargh! Saturated and trans fat, too much salt, fried everything, preserved everything are all pretty new to our bodies in the grand scheme of things. It takes more than 50 years to evolve our systems to figure out how to handle all that awful stuff and stay alive - try millions of years. We just aren't set up for this diet we're on. So let's get off it!

When you are thinking about what you're going to eat today and tomorrow and twenty years from now, think about eating mostly natural foods, locally produced if possible - food you could picture our ansestors harvesting. There is a good book out called "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. This book is a real eye opener and will motivate you to make positive changes in your diet. You can get it in book form or as an audiobook. Well worth the read.

Gardeners, you rock! Bring on those veggies.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Dave Ramsey Antidote

Saturday I spent most of the day doing something I really enjoy. That was introducing a group of my coworkers and a few family members to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. I don't actually teach it at the moment, although I may in the future; I just administer it. So this is the fifth time in two years I have been privileged to be part of the first steps a group of people take towards taking back their financial lives. I love it.

In these days of so much financial turmoil, it is increasingly clear to me how strong the tie can be between physical health and financial health. I emphasize can because it isn't always so.
Having too much month left at the end of the money on a regular basis can cause chronic stress, insomnia and result in a host of health problems. Not having enough money to pay for health insurance, health screenings, copays, etc. also puts us at risk for failing to discover health conditions before it is too late to correct them.

But when the cashflow meets your expenses and you have an emergency fund to cover...well, emergencies, the tie is much looser. It's like trying to ride a horse that continually wants to run and crowhop around compared to riding a horse that you can casually guide up a trail loosely holding the reins. Frustration vs. ahhhh, pure pleasure.

Debt has been like a burr under our saddles nationwide. It might not be the only one, but it's a biggie. I don't know if you have ever heard of Dave Ramsey, but he is a Christian guy who lost everything in his twenties and turned his life around financially and otherwise. Now he helps others do the same. Getting out of debt and staying that way is one of the major keys to ensuring we can afford the healthcare we need and get to our goal age someday. It's Dave's primary focus. No weird software or quick get-rich schemes - it's hard work, but worth it. When you aren't paying everyone else all the time, you get to pay yourself and help others! Yippee!

Check out his website at http://www.daveramsey.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stay Healthy Enough to Spend Your IRA!

Planning for your health is a lot like financial planning. With finances you take a good look at where you are right now and figure out where you want to be in the future. Well, so then what? Then you either educate yourself on investment and savings techniques or you find out who does that well and work with them. Education either way. Then you set goals, follow the plan, deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (or loss) and if all goes well, your money gets to where you wanted it to go. Or if the economy tanks, you go back to work. Sigh. It's called a workaround gang.

So most of us are doing financial planning in some way. The thing is, without any plan to stay healthy, our money may arrive at its appointed destination without us. Yikes! We have to plan for health right along with our finances. So start now. Wherever you are. In whatever state you're in. Start! Read, read, read. You can't learn enough. Set some incremental goals to get you to where you want to go and then lean into it! Keep your eye on the goal and don't be deterred. You can do this.