Rare Inspiration

clark-tibbs-367075-unsplash

I found inspiration today amongst the chaos.  As I drove home from work on busy Grey’s Ferry Avenue in Philadelphia, where just 8 hours before a multi car accident filled the stage,  a new scene imprinted in my head reassuring me humanity is alive.  As I passed, I saw three men standing in the center median of this busy roadway, providing hope with a pop up barber shop. Behind the men stood a simple worn brown table resembling a children’s school desk covered in tools and black chair.  An oasis, amongst the trash filled cement blocks, flocked by late model cars just passing through. Blue hand painted letters melted down the front of a worn white cardboard sign that read, “Haircuts for Homeless.”  Smacked by the reality of this small gesture, I was reminded time may be the greatest gift. How many people had they helped today? It didn’t matter if it was only one. One light at a time leads the way.  Be the light.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

My Natural Battle with Cholesterol

spoons filled with spices and seeds on black background

Photo by Pratiksha Mohanty on Unsplash

My History

My family has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. As an early teen, my total cholesterol was 250. I was 5’3″ and barely 95 pounds. It stayed around that number for many years. After I turned 40, the numbers slowly started creeping up. At the same time the medical community changed the guidelines, which now put my cholesterol in the very high category. At each doctor visit, I was pressured to start a statin regiment. I

I refused for many years. I heard too many reports of scary side affects from statins and have an overall distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. I am highly sensitive to prescription medications and have a long list of drug allergies that caused not so pleasant events over my lifetime. Casually, I started researching natural methods for cholesterol reduction, but hadn’t made any serious changes. I didn’t smoke or drink, my blood pressure has always been good and while I could use to lose about 20 pounds, my other risk factors were low.

The Catalyst

In the summer of 2017, I went to one of my twice yearly checkups and the doctor was putting on the pressure to start taking statins. I was 49, doing yoga 4 times a week and feeling really healthy. In a moment of weakness, I gave in and decided to try statins. My daughter had moved across the country and we were traveling more. I wanted to ensure that I could keep up this healthy lifestyle for a long time and not be brought down by heart disease. It was the second week of June when I started taking Crestor. The first week was great. The second week started the minor muscle aches and twinges. At first I wrote them off as anxiety. I told myself I was looking for something to go wrong. I added a CoQ10 supplement as recommended to reduce the likelihood of side effects.

By week three, I started having trouble with my asthma. I was using my inhalers 3x a day. My asthma was always controlled when I used my inhalers, but this time the  inhalers only worked for about 30 minutes to an hour. On Friday, June 23rd, I started having debilitating muscle spasms. The muscles around my lungs felt like knives shooting up through my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. I convinced myself I wasn’t and used peppermint oil across my chest and back to relax the muscles. It provided some relief. The next morning in my anguish I wrote a not so nice message to my doctor and went off Crestor. The damage was done.

The next week was so bad I felt like I was a 70-year-old man with COPD. On the morning of July 2nd I woke up and still wasn’t feeling right. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with a small amount of pneumonia in my left lung and released. By that night I was rushed back to the ER and I now was diagnosed with Pneumonia in three-quarters of my left lung and Empyema. The escalating illness was caused by a rare bacteria due to my compromised lung function from the reaction to Crestor. I spent over 10 days in the hospital with chest tubes to drain the infection. I’ve been lucky so far to have never had a serious illness. After that event, I decided to take my health into my own hands.

My New Journey

I spent most of the Fall of 2017 recuperating. In November I met with my doctor. My Cholesterol had risen to 305. During the past few months, I had been researching new techniques for determining the pattern size of the LDL particles. I asked my doctor to write a script for my next visit and told him I was going to use more natural methods for controlling my Cholesterol. He listened and agreed to write a script for the additional tests. I could tell he wasn’t completely sold on the idea, but I told him there was no way I would ever take another statin. I didn’t want to find the one with the reaction of may cause death. I also did not believe in taking drugs with a large body of evidence of known side effects as a preventative that degrades quality of life just in case I might get heart disease. I resigned myself to the fact that if I had a heart attack and died at 65 it was meant to be.

My research lead me down a few paths. I tried the Keto/Paleo Diet, which has some promising new research, but I was not able to follow it. Instead I followed some of the research that gave indications of Cholesterol reductions. This research was related to vitamin C, Cinnamon, Vitamin B and Apple Cider Vinegar. Over the next 6 months I started taking the following regimen of supplements, drinking vinegar tea and made no additional changes to my diet. I’ve actually eaten Dunkin Donuts egg sandwiches and hash browns every morning religiously for years and that hasn’t stopped. Here is my daily regimen of vitamins.

Daily Vitamin Regimen

  • 2000 mg Vitamin C
  • 2000 mg of Cinnamon
  • 400 mg of CoQ10
  • Mega B multivitamin
  • Probiotic (minimum of 25 billion)

At my most recent doctors visit, I had reduced my cholesterol almost 40 points in 4 months. My total cholesterol dropped from 305 to 266. Back in November, I had also asked my doctor to do an LDL particle size test. It’s a test I was researching out of Australia. The results of this test showed I have large LDL particles, which flow through the arteries and do not stick to the sides and create plaque.  The other positive is my good cholesterol (HDL) continues to stay around 70. Given this new information, my doctor finally agreed with me and stopped pushing statins. Not that i would listen. Instead, he recommended trending my cholesterol for the next five years to watch what happens with the numbers. I on the other hand am continuing to research other areas to reduce inflammation. Since the most recent test I have added 2.4 g of Tumeric to my daily regimen and I’m excited to see what it does to my numbers when I take my next set of tests in November. “I do not claim to be an expert. I am just taking control and listening to my body. What works for me might not work for everyone.” Intuitively felt wrong to accept my only path is pharmaceuticals when my high cholesterol appears to be genetic.

Below are my recipe for vinegar tea, the additional cholesterol tests and links to some of the research I have used to base my decisions. In November after my next visit, I will post an update to let everyone know if my theory continues to be successful.

Have you done anything to take control of your health? Leave a reply below. I would love to continue the conversation…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Recipe for the Vinegar Tea

(Also helps with congestion, coughing and post nasal drip)
Apple Cider Vinegar Tea – 2-3 x per day
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (must be Braggs with the mother)
1 teaspoon organic raw honey (anti-inflammatory)
Cayenne pepper – shake in to taste
8 oz hot water
(must drink through a straw to protect teeth)

Tests I’ve Requested

NMR Lipoprofile (this is the new one for particle size)
Apolipoprotein B
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

 

Research Links

Vitamin C (13 studies) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682928/
Cinnamon – https://www.drjohnlapuma.com/wellness-and-health/what-type-of-cinnamon-lowers-cholesterol-and-why/
Cinnamon – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24019277
Cinnamon – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804
Cinnamon – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section2

 

Harry Potter lives on in Jim Thorpe

Today, I went in search of inspiration and found a little magical world. I came to the Poconos this weekend for a self defined solo writing retreat. It’s been a day and a half and so far my creativity has escaped me. To break out of the funk, I left the mountain and drove down to Jim Thorpe. On this cold, gray, rainy Sunday,  I’ve found the perfect hideaway to spend the afternoon. Mugglesmug Coffee shop at 79 Broadway.

Walking into the store, I felt like I stepped into any shop on Diagon Alley. Antique Leather couches and velvet chairs abound atop plank wood floors. Velvet fabric in the colors of the four Hogwarts houses draped across the ceiling of the store attached to  each of the four windows. What some may call cliché, I found charming, right down to Harry Potter movies, playing on the wall, surrounded by a quaint seating area. On the couches sat, several preteen girls drinking warm hot chocolate out of heavy glass steins. Their eyes intently fixed on the screen. It warmed my heart to see everyone have the same reaction of curious delight as they entered the store.

I overheard several tables discussing memories of their favorite parts of Harry Potter.  Unless you lived in a remote area of the world, you are aware of the commercial success of this series, but sitting here and seeing people’s reaction, I realized the full impact. It made me truly respect the world J K Rowling created that continues to live on and touches so many lives. I can only wish in my lifetime to create something that provides joy to so many people. This dark moody charming haven was the exact prescription. The lemon poppy muffin and English Breakfast tea were perfect. Even my damp clothes added to the atmosphere. I wished I didn’t have to leave. Goblet of Fire was just starting, but my meter was running out, and due to my inept ability to parallel park, I have to walk back several blocks in the rain to public parking. I will definitely be back.

If you get the chance to visit this quiet little gem, I highly recommend it. They have vegan and gluten-free bakery options and a little magic for everyone.

The flying fish car

I’m sorry to say I to belong to a notorious group, populated by a small percentage of people, who have driven through a house. Sometimes I think karma was to blame. When I turned 17 in 1985, my mom bought me a car. As a woman, I can say this was a woman purchase. At the time, we knew nothing about cars except that I needed one. My dad had just passed away and my mom was the epitome of a 1950’s housewife. We had to learn to  fend for ourselves.

The Sunoco gas station at the corner of our neighborhood was selling a 1970 white Ford Maverick for $600. Basically we started the car, handed the man $600 and drove away. To our surprise, the car ran well. The only thing we didn’t know was the car leaked when it rained. After any type of rain, a rusty puddle would form on the moldy red carpet behind the driver seat. I could deal with the leak at first, but as the weather became wetter and warmer, the car developed the pungent aroma of dead fish. By June, it was almost unbearable.

On a soupy hot humid day, common for June in South Jersey, I drove my girlfriend Cindy and her baby daughter Tammy to lunch. On the way, the fishy odor was stronger than usual due to a storm the night before mixed with the mid day heat.  I complained on the drive about wanting to get rid of the car because of the smell and lack of air conditioning. Cindy agreed, as we peeled our bare sweat soaked legs from the cracked red vinyl car seat, picked up the baby and walked into the air-conditioned Rustler’s steakhouse for lunch.

I disliked high school and thought of myself as one of the lucky ones. In Deptford High School, we liked to call it the work release program. I was part of the Marketing Distributive education program called DECA. For this program, you went to school for 3 hours in the morning and then you were required to work a retail job. I worked at Kinney Shoes for 6-8 hours a week. Mostly 2 hours on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and 4 hours over the weekend. The premise was to prepare students in marketing, retail and for the workforce. To me, it was a sweet gig for not having to attend school full-time. It allowed me to go to lunch with my older friends, like I was doing today and do whatever I wanted for the main portion of my days. While I did well in school and took advanced classes, losing my father and grandmother in my Junior year drained all of the mental energy I had to deal with the petty struggle that comes with high school. For me, the work release program was perfect.

After lunch, Cindy and I dreaded getting back into the car. Vinyl seats and shorts were not a good combination in the summer. Cindy put the baby in the car, and then she and I did the hot seat dance. Our legs felt like seared steaks. We needed to get moving as quickly as possible to get air moving through the open windows of the car. As we drove away, I put the Styx Grand Illusion cassette in the radio. It was our favorite album at the time. Come Sail Away blared out of the windows as we drove through our neighborhood. We were singing along and driving with purpose as I will call it to the beat of the music.

Instead of turning up Hamilton Road to Cindy’s house, I went around the block to finish listening to the song. As we passed Oak Valley Elementary school, the song hit a crescendo. I approached the left turn on Fordham Road too fast. This was not a usual road we drove down, and I wasn’t aware of the deep speed dip at the entrance. As I hit the speed dip, I felt the car jump. Styx was singing .. a gathering of angels as Cindy and I sang a chorus of, “A pole, a fence, a house!!” That quickly my little Ford Maverick was lodged up to the windshield in the bedroom of a house. When the car stopped, it was eerily quiet. The wall was the only thing I could see through the windshield. I looked over at Cindy and said, “Are we dead?”

When I lost control of the car, instead of hitting the brakes I hit the gas. The car jumped the curb, hit the inside of a telephone pole, careened off of a chain link fence and drove straight through the wall of a house knocking a woman out of bed who was taking a nap. We were all very lucky that day. I cut my knee, Cindy hurt her shoulder and bruised her head hitting the windshield. What we thought was an injury to the baby was only ketchup in her hair from lunch. The woman in the bed only sprained her ankle. She came out of the house and helped us out of the car. Ironically it was at the same time a school bus was letting off students from my high school.

The woman was nice enough to take me into the house to call my mom. My mom always had a calm way of handling stressful situations. She said, “I’m assuming you are alright since you’re calling me on the phone.” To this day, I don’t know who the woman was who lived in the house. I must have been in shock.

Over the years, I came up with many excuses for why the accident happened. None of which I’m glad to say involved alcohol or drugs. As an adult, I know it was my overzealous enjoyment of Styx and careless inexperienced driving. Sometimes I wonder if it was karma and my little car knew of my disdain. For a while after the accident I was sad about my little car left at the impound lot. A few weeks later, my mom took me to pick up my cassette case from the car. Thirty three years later I still can’t listen to Styx Come Sail Away.

 

The unknown danger

My father never spanked me before. The only thing I knew was that I hated him. I sat on the blue porcelain toilet with my black patent leather Mary Janes kicking the sides. Tears ran down my cheeks streaking my dirt stained legs, as I stared out the window, at the wooden ladder going to the roof.

It was 1975 and I was 4 years old. I didn’t know I was supposed to be scared until I felt my Dad’s large hands grab me down from the ladder before I reached the roof. He was so mad he spanked me across the butt and talked so fast about falling in my fancy shoes, how I should never climb the ladder to the roof and to get in the house.  I ran into the house crying and sat on the toilet in the bathroom. At the time I didn’t know why he was so mad.

All morning I played hopscotch and climbed the mimosa tree in the front yard while my Dad and his friend worked on the new roof.  A case of Schlitz sat on the trunk of my mother’s teal green convertible Monte Carlo and Tammy Wynette played on the radio. In those days, in our neighborhood, you didn’t hire a roofing company. My dad would call his friends and ask for help promising a case of beer. That was usually enough to get help from at least one or two guys. That morning I watched as my dad and his friend climbed up and down the ladder many times replacing wood and shingles on the roof.

I looked at that ladder several times wondering what it would be like to be high on on the roof. My dad and his friend were “Tankies” or what other people called iron workers or welders. Walking on the roof to them was like walking on the sidewalk.  They built bridges and water towers. My mom even brought me to the job sites a few times to bring lunch. As I watched them climb the ladder, it looked so easy. I could fly free like a bird. Sliding across the grass in my slick dress shoes, flapping my arms, I practiced the freedom of flying high on the roof like a bird.

When my dad and his friend went in the back yard to get supplies, I decided to climb to the roof. I remember taking the first step and looking down at the dried peeling wood of the gray ladder my dad had taken from the job site. As I stepped on each rung, my little black shoes would slide from side to side. I got lucky when they caught on the large splinters. It wasn’t as easy as it looked. I climbed to the eighth or ninth rung when my dad came around the side of the house and caught me.

While I hated him at the time for spanking me, as a parent I understand the fear that took over him when he saw me halfway up the ladder in my shiny Mary Janes.

 

(a writing exercise on the first time I encountered danger)

 

 

The start of my goals

White Notebook with five different colored markers. Positive affirmation

What are you passionate about? It’s a question I ask myself everyday. I was hoping to find inspiration at a conference I was attending for work. Although it was worthwhile and I was able to collaborate and build relationships, I found the experience very energy draining. It is difficult for me to be social for 4 days without downtime.  Normally when I travel for work I am alone and have better control of my schedule. This conference was jam packed, which included extra social events at the end of each day. Some people benefit from the social aspect of these events and become energized. I need more of a balance. I’ve discovered in the past year, that I am an extroverted introvert. Solo reflection is where I become most energized and creative. If I am required to be social for long periods of time, I lack focus. It can sometimes take a day for me to recover. That is true for both my professional and personal endeavors. That became crystal clear for me over the past week.

As I embark on my new creative path, I must set aside time everyday for reflection in addition to non negotiable time each week to work toward my goals. My first goal is to write at least one blog post each week. Another is to set aside 10 non-negotiable hours each week to complete Marie Forleo’s B-School. I am so excited and energized to participate in this program. This program will give me the tools I need to create a platform for my first book. I am putting this out into the Universe. My ultimate goal is to have a first draft of a novel by the end of 2018. This project has simmered in my mind for over 15 years and now is the time. If I don’t make the commitment, it will never happen. Exposing your work to the public is a daunting task. It requires a willingness to expose your vulnerability. I am not unique. This is an age old issue. I am hoping that with this blog I can find the community to take on this journey.

Create your new ending

I thought this quote was perfect for the new moon and setting new intentions.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

~Maria Robinson

I had written a post the other night, but I decide to delete it. It was after several gray rainy days coupled with several days of migraines and a long week at work. I sat there internally whining and complaining. When I was done, I reflected on what I had written. It was not meant to be put out into the universe. The page was filled with negative self indulgent rubbish and added zero value. While everyday doesn’t need to be perfect and happy, I choose to be positive or negative. The world is full of negative energy and I am not going to contribute.

Tonight as I set my intentions with the new moon, I choose to be positive and mindful of the energy I bring to my daily interactions. We only have today. Let’s not waste it being negative.

 

My magical world

Mossy green rainforest. HOH Rainforest 2017

Can you see the fairies? I can. They flutter in and out of the magical world hidden beneath the roots of this exquisite tree. This post was inspired by the never ending rain that has enveloped the East Coast and will last for the next day and a half. I captured this image last summer on a family trip to visit my daughter and her husband who had just relocated to Seattle. This magical place resides in the HOH Rainforest along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington. Ever since my mom passed in 2006, I have wanted to write a story about a magical fairy land. It is always in the back of my mind. My mom was a doll designer who loved fairies, and created many colorful characters, who I see inhabiting this land. She is the fairy queen.IMG_7919

Every time I sit down to write the story, it vanishes. Maybe it’s my the fear of entering into a long history of fairy stories or maybe it’s unresolved feelings from my mom’s passing that block me from writing the story. All writer’s have one or more stories they struggle to tell and this is mine. I know she is my spirit angel and is always with me. One day the Universe will tell me its time. The magic will happen and the words will fill the page. Until then, I can only dream of this magical place and what will become of my fairies in the rainforest. What’s your hidden story?

I invite you to take a few moments and enjoy the serenity.Namaste.

The page is no longer blank

Clam shell barnacles from La Push beach in Washington State

When your a writer, there is nothing more intimidating than the blank page. I’ve heard from many professors and professional writers just put words on paper, even if they are gibberish. There are finally words on the page. My blog went live today. It is no longer just a thought in my head. The thoughts in my head are complex. Not much different than this image I’d taken at La Push beach in the Pacific Northwest. I love this picture because of its delicate balance mixed with a complex symphony of life. The textures and colors feel similar to my racing thoughts as I contemplate the paths that will unfold.

Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are living within you?…we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it.” I know this to be true. My creativity died years ago and its taken me years to get it back. Making my blog public was very scary and exhilarating at the same time. Now that its live, it feels like a tiny diamond radiating energy waiting to grow its light. It only needs me to breath life into it..one post at a time.

It’s time…

My intention for this year is to live my truth. I am starting this blog from an insecure place, but that’s OKAY. Over the years I have dreamt, talked and thought about writing. I’d always thought it would be a novel. Last week I watched a video from Marie Forleo of Marie TV on perfection. She said you need to go for Progress not Perfection. In not so perfect words, she said If you are not embarrassed by your early stage work than you are not trying and stifled by perfection. Just click publish. The thought of being vulnerable and putting my words out into the universe, open to criticism, has always stopped me in my tracks. I made excuses about the timing not being right or lack of inspiration. I even have the perfect little black writing desk. I purchased it over 5 years ago from Pottery Barn with saved loose change. On it sits a beautiful white iMac waiting for me to create the next great American novel. Sad to say it didn’t inspire me enough to break down my walls.

In July of 2017, I came down with bacterial pneumonia and ended up in the hospital for several weeks. It was the first time in my life I was seriously ill. While in the hospital I was in denial about the seriousness of my situation. It wasn’t until I was out of the hospital for several weeks, my lungs and body still painful and weak, that I realized what I went through was not as simple as a bad cold. For the past several months my path has been different. Visions of the life I want to live are ever present. I have a great career, loving family, vibrant yoga and meditation practice, but I still felt empty. The creative spirit I had when I was younger has been dormant for a long time.

On Friday night, I mentioned to my husband that I had come up with an idea for a blog and decided on a name. In my search I checked to see if Instagram and Twitter were available as well. He looked at me and said, “What are you waiting for, set it up.” In a panic, I started explaining the costs and what it would take to set everything up. He looked up at me and said, “We have the money. What do you have to lose” and handed me my laptop. CreativeMindPizza was born. Wish me luck…