Advice That Lifts Me Up

We all have those moments when we are in a funk, and we need some words of wisdom or inspiration. There are a few pieces of advice I have received through the years that I always fall back on when things are hard. Here are a few I hope will help you.

Don’t waste your energy on negativity.

We have all probably had someone betray us, manipulate us, or do us wrong in some way. It’s natural to feel all the emotions associated with the situation, but what good does it do to continue to dwell on it after the fact? The best way to feel better about negativity is to use positivity to move forward to achieve your dreams. Negativity makes you feel bad, a positive attitude propels you forward.

Believe you are enough.

Have you ever wanted to do something but thought you were not good enough? I have seen friends who wanted to accomplish something, but they were so sure of failure they ended up sabotaging themselves.

Find an escape, an outlet.

Running, writing, reading, and gardening are my escapes. I can lose myself in all of them, let my mind run free, and not worry about any problems I might have been having. An outlet like this will help you release tension and stay calm.

Love unconditionally.

I have a strained relationship with a family member and I’m not sure how to repair it, or even why it’s strained. When I asked a friend for advice she said to just keep letting him know that you love him. When I want to be angry with him for the way he acts I think of my friend’s words, and I know she is right.

Be a good listener.

Everyone wants to be heard and to tell their story, but most people are more interested in telling their story instead of listening to someone else’s. I often watch people interrupt so they can jump in and take over the conversation. What if we actually listened and allowed someone to speak?

Know how to discuss respectfully.

My husband and I do not argue about much, but until recently politics was a dangerous topic to bring up in our house. We belong to different parties, but I have always said that if a candidate in his party is the better choice I would vote for that person. He thinks that is scandalous and would only vote for the candidate in his party. When I would try to discuss something with him he would become very angry. I discussed with him that we should be able to have a discussion or a disagreement in a calm way without all the emotions. He has made a great deal of progress. Lol.

Shower kindness

There is so much negativity these days. We are all struggling with our mental health and kindness can go a long way.

Sleep well.

Sleep affects everything. Be intentional about sleeping enough and do what you need to do to eliminate anything that is preventing you from sleeping.

Be grateful.

When you start to list all the good things in your life you will realize how fortunate you are. Put everything into perspective.

Have plants or pets.

Both plants and pets give you something to talk to that won’t talk back. There is something wonderful about caring for something else.

Find one good friend.

This is an area where quality trumps quantity. Having a best friend makes every day a little brighter.

The End of the Road

During the past forty years, running has saved me. It has kept me healthy both physically and mentally, and it has been my escape when life overwhelmed me. This past year gave me two health scares that eventually made me more grateful than ever to be able to run, and it has changed the way I train, but I actually think the changes might be for the better. It has also made me reflect on how I can continue running for as long as possible, and how do I handle it when the end of my running road is before me.

My first health issue was when I went out for an early morning run and had an AFIB (irregular heartbeat) attack and had my first ride in an ambulance—the next few months involved many doctor visits and every heart test possible. None of them revealed a reason for the AFIB. I have had three more attacks since then, so I now take a beta blocker because I don’t want to have an episode out on a trail and have to sit against a tree until my heart pops back into rhythm. It has made me more aware of my pace and my pulse. When I am racing I like my pulse to not go above 140 and if it reaches 150 I will stop running and walk until my pulse goes down. I am paying attention to my breathing and how my body feels more than I usually did before the attacks. I am trying to be more relaxed when I run instead of allowing my competitiveness to take over. I am enjoying runs more because of this.

The second health issue was when I tore my meniscus. I was afraid my running was done, but when I couldn’t run I cross-trained. Shortly after my diagnosis, I walked an ultra. I made it 28 miles which I didn’t think was bad with an injury. Until I could run I worked more with weights, did the elliptical, biked, and swam. Now that I can run I am trying to be cautious by cutting back on my mileage and continuing to do cross-training. I listen to how my body feels and then decide to run, walk, do a combination, rest, or add some cross-training.

Runners always seem to find a way to come back from challenges. I hope I can continue to run for many more years, and I know if I ever have to put my running shoes away, there will be tears, and it will be like saying goodbye to an old friend who has been there through the good and the bad, and who has made the trip down the road so much better.

My Garden Has a Personality

If you don’t think plants are living, breathing things, you haven’t been observing them. Once you spend any time in a garden and watch what your plants do, it’s hard not to be amazed. Today, when I walked into my garden and looked around the thought hit me that my garden has a personality. It’s a little quirky, a bit scattered and a mess, and quiet and wild all at once.

My garden is not orderly with each plant occupying one spot that is clearly labeled. There are carrots growing in the lettuce, lettuce growing next to the bed that houses most of the lettuce, and a wild strawberry patch next to the bed of strawberries. If my garden was a person she would have ADD and she would be thriving in the middle of chaos. She also mixes well with others except for the cucumbers which can be slightly territorial.

My garden personality is tenacious. She can bounce back from a few cold days or excessive heat. She knows that every day won’t be perfect, and she knows how to adjust to life’s ebb and flow.

The garden is curious and knows how to reach out for help. My small strawberry patch sent out runners last year looking for more space to grow. This year my strawberry plants have quadrupled, and I didn’t have to buy anything new. I eventually decided to plant an entire new bed of strawberries because I love them so much. Can you imagine how many I will have next year?

My garden loves music even when it comes from me. I can be heard singing to my plants whenever I am out there. My neighbor said she thinks it cute, but I think she was being kind. The plants are also great listeners because I talk to them and give them a daily weather report so they can prepare.

The garden enjoys encouragement like most of us do. I am often out there cheering on a plant that looks a little droopy, and I have to tell you I have seen some crazy recoveries and comebacks.

The garden can be mysterious, hiding its wonders while it works during the night to unveil its beauty in the morning.

I hope you experience the wonder of a garden, and that you also see a personality in yours.

What Are Migraines and How Can You Cope?

Migraines affect over two billion people worldwide. They are more than just a headache, and they come in a variety of forms. Migraines can be disabling with a throbbing pain in the head often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. They can also come with auras that cloud the vision with wavy, silvery waves of light. The frequency and severity of migraines differ from person to person.

The cause of migraines also varies, and a migraine can be triggered by certain food and drinks, especially alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods. It can be caused by changes in the weather, certain lights or sounds, or strong smells. Stress can cause a migraine as well as menstruation or hormonal changes. Irregular sleep and certain medications can also be the culprits.

My migraines started when I was fifty-two. At first, I would have migraines with auras, and once I had to stop in the middle of teaching a class at the university and call my husband to pick me up because my vision was so affected. Because my vision was affected I thought I might need glasses. I went to the eye doctor who said I had a stigmatism in one eye, so he prescribed me glasses. After not wearing glasses for fifty-two years, I couldn’t get used to them, so I used reading glasses to read and put the prescription glasses in the case.

As the migraines continued I noticed they only happened around the time of my period. My doctor had suggested I stay on the pill until I was sixty and then I would stop taking it. I told him I thought my body was fighting the periods and was ready to go through menopause. I stopped taking the pill and the migraines stopped. I now have them infrequently, and they are almost all related to changes in the weather.

When I have a migraine the first symptom is a feeling of malaise. I’m not sick, but I feel off and the idea of lying down and closing my eyes sounds amazing. Next comes the pain which for me comes in waves, usually on one side of my head. It often is behind my eyes as well. The migraines incapacitate me. I physically cannot continue, and I have to lie down.

I also want to mention my most recent migraine in case anyone has had this happen. This time, the headache hit me like a train without warning. As I sat in the kitchen sipping coffee with the lights off and sunglasses on, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I’m not sure I could be any happier, so I said to my husband, “What in the world is happening right now?” Of course, he thought he had done something to cause the tears, so I had to assure him that everything was o.k. I am pretty sure this was a rare (for me) hormone headache.

After the migraine is over you will have what is often referred to as a migraine hangover. You are tired, and still not feeling yourself, and you might want to take it easy.

Here are a few ideas for relief that I hope help you.

Turn out the lights.

Put on sunglasses.

Drink a Coke or other caffeine.

Put on a cold eye mask.

Lie down somewhere dark and quiet.

There are medications you can get from your doctor.

Drink plenty of water.

Talk to your doctor about managing your migraines and go to the hospital if you have a headache with fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, double vision, numbness, or weakness in any part of the body, which could be a sign of a stroke.

See The Haters for Who They Are

We all know there are haters out there. They are the people who feel so bad about themselves that they enjoy being hateful and trying to steal other people’s shine. Lately, though, I have seen more than usual hatred flowing around, so I thought it might be time to help the people who are as sensitive as I am to see why you shouldn’t waste your energy on haters.

A former student of mine posted that she had not sung or touched her guitar in three years because of a hateful incident involving her music. She has a voice like an angel, and I wish I could play the guitar like her, but hatefulness has kept her from sharing her gift with others. My daughter called me yesterday to vent about the hateful comments she has received on social media. She said people have criticized her teeth, her hair, and her general appearance. I know I am biased, but my daughter is beautiful. Even though you know the haters are in the wrong negative comments can sting, so here are a few ideas to help you ignore them.

Remember that haters have problems worse than anything you could be dealing with. They want us to be as miserable as they are. Tearing people down makes them feel better about themselves. Have you ever known a hater who had it all together? No.

Whenever I have a negative comment that is not helpful I remember my article about Christmas lights. I wrote an article about why we have Christmas lights. I talked about tradition and how fun it was, and there definitely wasn’t anything controversial in the article. I received over 100 comments ranging from racial slurs to political rants, and there were a few that didn’t make any sense at all. I read them all to my daughters and said I would no longer allow my comments to affect me. Whenever my girls talk about hatefulness I say, “Remember the Christmas lights.”

If you are a believer take a moment to pray for the haters because I believe the energy you send out comes back to you eventually. It will not be pretty.

Be kind, be careful with your words, lift others up, and ignore the haters, they hate it when you do that.

You Never Know

We all have the ability to inspire others even though most of us can’t imagine that happening. You might think there isn’t anything you say or do that would motivate or uplift someone, but you never know if something you say or do might be exactly what someone else might need. What if you are capable of actually saving someone, of keeping them from doing harm to themselves, or changing their lives completely? It takes the right words at the right time, or just the right action to change everything.

Have you ever had something heavy weighing on your mind, and you see a post on social media, an article on social media, or a comment on the radio that seems to be talking to you giving you the words you need? That always takes my breath away when that happens. Keep your eyes and ears open and you will notice it more often.

Something you think is ordinary might seem extraordinary to someone else. You can be the inspiration they need to try harder to achieve what they would like to do. We were running a six-mile trail race last week and a group of us were running together. We were strangers to each other, but the pace we were running worked for all of us. The woman behind me told me I was inspiring her to train harder because I was running so strong without stopping. In my mind, I was wondering if I should tell her that I was hoping we were almost done, and that I really wanted a hamburger.

You never know when an important moment is going to happen. My sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and her husband asked for a divorce several weeks later. They had been married 30 years and she was completely blindsided. I came over the next day(unannounced) and brought lunch. I spent the afternoon with her and told her I knew she was strong enough to handle this. She told me ten years later that she had intended to end her life that day by taking pills, and I interrupted her. She said some of what I said to her convinced her not to try it again.

I was at the gym one day feeling a little down because my torn meniscus was taking a long time to heal, and I missed running. A man was training his wife in the weight room, and I asked him about one of the exercises he was doing. I explained about my knee, and he told me he had been in the military and had 13 operations on his knee. He told me what I needed to do to strengthen it, and he gave me hope because he said it takes longer for the knees to heal.

Acts of kindness are those actions that you never know how powerful they might be. When you pay for someone’s meal you might be helping out more than you know as well as lifting his spirits.

Be kind, be an example, show positivity, and show someone the possibilities because you never know.

Easy Summer Learning Activities

Many parents are looking for ways to teach their children during the summer whether because they want to continue what they were doing in school, or they want to teach their children even before they begin the school journey. The great thing about summer is that learning is all around us. You don’t need to spend money on a lot of books. I am going to give you some ideas for activities and recommend a few websites.

Start a garden.

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment or have sprawling acreage, you can still grow things. If you don’t have any outside space start a container garden. Buy some containers and make sure they have drainage. Also, buy some potting soil and either seeds or plants. Use this link for a garden planner and activity guide at

This is also a great activity guide, but I think you must subscribe to abcteach (well worth it.)

Learn about how plants grow with this link.

Here is a link from Pinterest about how to have a container garden.

If you have room outside for a bigger garden, plant a variety of plants and vegetables and teach your child how to grow and care for them and observe what they do. I am fascinated by what happens in the garden and most of it will happen without any effort. Last year, I had a tiny bed of strawberries that sent out tendrils for new plants, and this year those plants that were entirely free for me are my biggest producers. Talk to your child about what happens with plants and let them ask questions. How do plants like cucumbers know to grab onto something to grow higher and produce more, how did those strawberry plants reproduce?

Another activity to do is with hydrangeas. Their color will change depending on the acidity of the soil. You can influence the acidity with baking soda. Here is a link from Pinterest that talks about it.

You can also use the garden to talk about nutrition and how producing your own food can save money. If you have a more extensive garden you can talk about sharing food with the community.


Simple coloring is a great way to teach children colors and it is a stress reliever too. Many local papers have a kid’s section with coloring pages. You can also find lots of free coloring pages at

Trips to local gardens or zoos

This September, we were in the Luxemburg Gardens in Paris when a school was having a scavenger hunt. Many spots have scavenger hunts already prepared. What a fun way to learn!


Expose students to art and history by going to local museums. Most have children’s activities.


Cook with your child as you show them how to measure and prepare great food.

Journaling/letter writing

Senior centers and the military are great places to have children write letters. They will connect with interesting people while lifting someone’s spirit.

Have children record what they do during the summer in a journal.

Go to the library.

Teach children to love books early and enjoy helping them discover the world of stories.

These are a few ideas to continue the learning process this summer. Have fun!

Precious Jewelry

I don’t have any expensive jewelry, but I have several pieces that are priceless to me. Do you have jewelry that holds a special meaning or belongs to a loved one? Those pieces of jewelry can mean more than any expensive bauble.

I love tradition especially when it is started by my children. When my oldest graduated high school she asked if she could wear a beautiful pearl necklace that my husband had given me on our anniversary. The pearls are spread apart on a gold chain, and it is a beautiful necklace not only because of the way it looks but also for how it has served our family. When my oldest graduated from college she wore the necklace again, and it was worn again at her wedding. My youngest daughter wore the necklace for her senior high school photos, and on the day of her college graduation she said, “Mom can I wear the pearls?” I love that we have started the tradition of wearing them at important events.

My grandmother gave me her wedding ring on my sixteenth birthday because my birthstone is a diamond. I have worn it ever since on my right hand to remember her. When my mom died, I added her rings. It’s a way to feel that they are still with me.

I have the necklace my mom wore when she was married. It is a choker with tiny red stones on a gold chain. I think it is beautiful, but I hardly wear it because I am afraid I will lose it.

When my sister passed, I inherited her jewelry. Her favorite color was purple, so my favorite piece of hers is a purple ring on a silver chain. The ring is from my other grandmother, and it is so old and fragile we have it on a chain.

I have a brooch from my godmother that is a mini-Mardi Gras mask. It used to be filled with small, purple stones, but through the years they fell out and need to be replaced.

What jewelry do you have that carries special memories?

Mood Boards

Many people have heard of vision boards which are a way to manifest our goals visually. You can pick pictures of what you hope to have in your life and imagine it coming true. There are many stories of people who claim to have received what was on the board.

A mood board aims to boost your mood and remind you of all the great things in your life. It’s a feel-good board to boost your mood and motivation. A mood board can be pictures of accomplishments to remind you how amazing you are, it can be something that inspires you, something you aspire to be or have, or something that reminds you of a great memory. Here are a few examples that anyone could use to make a mood board.

You can put up pictures with bursts of color. These could be flowers or other photos with beautiful shades. I know color can always boost my mood.

Find photos of your favorite pets. We recently lost a pet we had had for fourteen years and having photos of him around makes me smile.

Put up photos of the people you love. Being surrounded by pictures of friends and family is always a mood booster.

Post evidence of accomplishments, you have had. On those days you feel you can’t do anything right those photos will remind you that you can.

Add thank you notes or words of affirmation you have been given. If I am feeling down I look at them to feel the love.

Use words of inspiration or an article that has touched you or made you smile.

Let me tell you about my mood boards. Notice I used the plural because I have several in my house because your mood influences everything you do. My office is actually one huge mood space. I want to look up and smile and be surrounded by things that make me happy. Here are a few specific things on the boards.

I have a picture of two of my favorite students who went to Paris with me holding my most recent book. It makes me happy to know I have their support.

There is a photo of me running the New Orleans marathon.

I have the patch showing that I was the karate champion for kumite(fighting) in 2011.

On my desk is a picture of myself and my brother-in-law at my wedding reception with my mom and dad looking at me behind me. When I found this photo I was missing them even more than usual and it made me feel as if they were telling me they were near me.

I also have a photo of a trail where I ran a fall marathon. It stretches on forever with beautiful colors and no people.

I hope I have given you some ideas to start your mood board. Have fun!!

Three Survival Skills

My daughter and I have begged my husband to put everything he knows about day-to-day survival in a book. We know that even that probably won’t save us because although the knowledge will be useful, we don’t think we have the two other skills to put that knowledge to good use. Let me explain.

My husband is one of those rare individuals who knows a little about everything. He loves to know how things work whether it is a mechanical device or someone’s reasoning. Beyond that skill, he has keen observational skills. He sees things that others don’t. We were walking through the basement when he looked up and said, “Oh, no.” When I asked what was the matter he told me the copper pipe was leaking, so he would have to replace it and Sodder it together. First, I had never even noticed we had copper pipes in the basement, and my next reaction was, “You know how to Sodder?”

He does things like this all the time. He was walking by the refrigerator when he said, “Oh, the filter needs to be replaced.” Did you know there is a filter under the refrigerator that needs to be replaced every six months? I had no idea. You can see by now that my daughter and I are praying that we never have to face life without this man.

The third survival skill he has is the ability to problem-solve. He loves it when he has to solve a mechanical puzzle. He will stand there and say, “What is making it do that?” I love watching him try to work it out and he always does. A neighbor called me in from my run because she heard a bang in the basement, and she wanted my help to find out what caused it. I told her I would go find John, he would go downstairs, and discover the cause in seconds. He did. He isn’t afraid of trying new things. He calls it Polish engineering, but it gets the job done.

The secret is out in our neighborhood that my husband can help you with life’s little problems, so we receive phone calls for all sorts of things. I am very grateful that at least one person in my family has survival skills.