Chatterbox

Smiles are Infectious

Sally Sunshine the Sunflower

It’s been a while since I posted anything lately. Not that I haven’t had anything to say. I simply find myself speechless by the state of our country these past 6 months. My fingers can type the words to express my feelings but my smiles have been few and far between.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a joyful sunflower farm in Eastern Wisconsin. It was a very typical hot, humid and sunny day in August. I kicked the dust up with my flip flops, as I weaved my way along a maze of well worn, dirt paths through the towering sunflowers. Sharing the space with a plethora of bumble bees and small children buzzing in all directions.

I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, falling down a rabbit hole, escaping reality and shrinking into a more magical world of childhood innocence. I felt my soul lighten as I came upon “Sally Sunshine the Sunflower”. There was no name plaque or signage naming her. I felt it was my duty to give her a name as she stood patiently smiling down at me in the little kingdom of yellow flowers.

How infectious her smile must be to everyone, I thought to myself…

We all could benefit from seeing a few more smiles today. Such a simple, instinctive human expression a person can share or witness. But now we are encouraged to smile more with our eyes since our faces are hidden under masks. Thank goodness, my age and menopausal crows feet are developing nicely.

So, let’s all convey an infectious smile under those masks! Raise an eyebrow or two, twinkle your eyes (that is if you’re a Kris Kringle), avoid botox. Embrace your wrinkled crows feet. Hey…who knows, there might just be a new cosmetic surgery on the horizon for those who need to enhance those little corner of the eye indentations. I think I will name it “crowsfeetoplasty”. Just remember you heard it here first. (smile).

Thank you for visiting and if you like what you read or want to read and learn more? Then don’t forget to subscribe before you go. You will be notified whenever I post something new on my site. Like and share me on Facebook. Look me up on Pinterest and Instagram. You have something you would like to share with me? Drop me a comment. Remember I don’t do bad attitudes and let’s keep it PG-13. Peace.

Namaste’

Chatterbox

The World I Left Behind

All you need is faith, trust and a little pixie dust.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I stood at the edge of the green, mossy path looking in at the covered cove of evergreens. The princess pines blanketed the forest floor, hiding the little curled faces of the fiddleheads of fern, peeking up through the needle covered earth, which still held the dew from the early morning frost.

The tangled limbs of the newly budding deciduous trees were dancing and clanking as the whistling wind blew through them. I drew in a deep breath of the sweet, earthy smell of the dirt below my feet as it filled my nostrils.

With a breathy sigh, I thought to myself, “Ahhh… I have missed you my dear forest friend.”

The past winter had been mild compared to other snowy and blustery years. The dirt road that lead to the trail path had healed nicely from the winter thaw and was passable with few ruts and unpredictable muddy potholes. I felt an internal sense of peace and gratefulness, for the opportunity to live far away from the overly-crowded communities of high-rise apartments and cityscapes, as the maddening rampage of the “virus” was stealing lives, like a thief in the night.

The heavily, wooded trail weaved past noisy marsh ponds as the chorus frogs filled the airwaves with their mating song and the matted, brown grass of the meadow, warming itself in the sun, as it seemed to play a game of hide-n-seek amongst the clouds. I shrugged off a small shiver. My exposed skin absorbed the heat of the sun and the cool dampness of the forest left my bones. A smile started forming on my molded, eternally saddened face and for the first time in months, I felt a tiny twinge of glimmering hope filled with happiness and peace.

My thoughts wandered jubilantly with the promise of new beginnings. Knowing soon, that the beauty of woodland flowers would appear, like the purple, blue and white petaled wood violets, yellow buttercups, and the brilliant white tri-petal trilliums. Each Spring, the forest floors, roadsides, parks, and banks of native streams and lakes would be blessed with the welcoming sense of rebirth of their hardy, native wildflowers and plants, no matter how mild or harsh the winter season may have been.

As a child, I would walk barefoot and carefree on muddy and grassy knoll paths near my home, playfully uncovering the new growth of wonderment, gathering nature’s treasures of the forest and meadows, and making fairy houses for magical creatures I imagined would inhabit them later.

This particular day, I felt an emptiness that was left behind from my innocent childhood years. The simple beauty, sound and smell of the forest seemed to flood my mind with memories that tugged strongly at my heart strings. I yearned to return, once more, to that time when my child-like self was able to keep a creeping sense of gloom and doom from surrounding me from a distance.

The late morning air lightened, as the sun glowed an angelic, heavenly ray of sunshine through the forest trees. The narrow trail straightened, became wider and I could see in the distance, a small rocky outcrop of dirt that seemed to draw my curiosity and attention. I quickened my bouncy cadence up the trail when something unusual, abruptly caught my eye. It was a small structure made of twigs, moss, birch bark, pine cones and small rocks slightly tucked under a bed of princess pines.

Fairy House!” , I softly whispered under my breath.

Call it a coinkydink, happenstance or pure serendipity, but I believed my morning’s journey and heavy soul searching may have manifested this magical quantum leap from childhood to adulthood.

I explored the details of the maker’s handy work while pondering its existence. Was it made by a playful child, teenager, or adult? How long had it been there? What inspired the creation? So many questions ran through my mind, as I started to form my own story line and conclusions. Time seemed irrelevant and my imagination became another social media share with one quick click of my smartphones’s camera shutter.

With faith and trust and a little pixie dust, I walked away hesitantly, trying to assure myself that others would treasure and not destroy this little, magical fairy house, that had captured the innocence and fragility of mother nature’s surroundings.

Returning home, I had a renewed sense of belonging and connectivity to the universe. I reminded myself to never forget the world I left behind. My memories will guide me through life and the truth of my future will always be found in the keys of my past.

Namaste’

Thank you for visiting and if you like what you read or want to read and learn more? Then don’t forget to subscribe before you go. You will be notified whenever I post something new on my site. Like and share me on Facebook. Look me up on Pinterest and Instagram. You have something you would like to share with me? Drop me a comment. Remember I don’t do bad attitudes and let’s keep it PG-13. Peace

Chatterbox

Eating Healthy with a Palette of Color (30-Day Challenge)

Eating a Palette of Color

The “February Funk” has set in for many of us and we now are longing for warmer, sunnier days and all the wonderful produce we are able to cultivate, gather and forage from our gardens, forests, and farmers market.

When I had a large family garden, I couldn’t wait for the seed catalogs to arrive during the winter months. I would snuggle under a warm blanket and stare out the frosted window, drawing out my rotation plan for the garden while waiting patiently for St. Patrick’s Day to start my seedlings indoors. In fact, a few weeks ago my daughter received her first of four seed catalogs she was waiting to receive for the new year and I could help but giggle as she squealed with excitement.

Red Fruits Protect our Hearts

With the flu/pneumonia season in high swing and daily reports of the climbing number of people testing positive and dying from the dreaded coronavirus – COVID19 and influenza; eating healthy and keeping our immune system in tip-top shape is even more important than ever. That means we need to eat more COLOR everyday.

Obviously, it’s important to get your bum off the couch, sleep at least 6-8 hours a night and practicing good hand hygiene and drink lots and lots of water. YadaYadaYada… Right? Nothing we all don’t already know but how many of us really live it daily?

You don’t have to be a vegetarian/vegan or wait until the warmer weather returns to eat more colorfully. When I modified my daily intake of nutrition by eating low calorie and low carbohydrate foods for several months, I was eating tons of seasonal veggies. I had significant success with weight loss and my fasting blood sugars returned to normal. My psoriasis cleared up and I had more mental clarity and energy like never before.

But maintaining a very strict low calorie and low carb food diet became mundane and eventually unrealistic for any long length of time.

I realized that I felt energized with the vibrant fresh colors bouncing off my food. I no longer was eating “muddy brown” meals. The colorful food was feeding my body and my artistic soul.

Let’s take a look at two different breakfasts I ordered last summer while traveling for my job. Both meals had nutritional value and gave me plenty of morning energy. But which meal do you think is a bit healthier?

This is an example of what I call the “brown meal”. Mostly protein and carbs. It’s missing color, right? What could you add to make it more colorful? How about an avocado with a slice of tomato? Berries, citrus or melons?

This is an example of a “colorful meal”. Also, a breakfast with mostly carbs and protein but it has sweet potatoes, red peppers, green spinach and a vibrant yellow hollandaise sauce.

When choosing or planning your meals, think COLOR.

Do you like peanut butter toast? Who doesn’t, right? But it’s pretty “brown”. Why not add “colorful” fruit to the top instead of honey or jam/jelly.

How about avocado toast? Pretty healthy right? But what if you add some thinly sliced tomato slices, cucumber, RAW yellow zucchini or carrot. (Use a mandolin or a veggie peeler and beautiful veggie ribbons) Be creative!

Take it up a notch! Emeril Lagasse would say.

Do you like waffles, pancakes, oatmeal? Add a triad (a set of three) of colorful fruit or more.

Rainbow Oatmeal

I make a beautiful and delicious Rainbow Oatmeal. Vanilla essence and the fruit provide all the natural sweetener you’ll need.

I can hear many of you saying, “I don’t have the time”, “My kids hate veggies”, “Fresh veggies and fruits are expensive”, “I don’t have a green thumb” .

YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your health and family’s health is what makes my job as a nurse so damn important. Food can be healthy medicine for your body just by adding more color to your meals.

I’m not going to get all science geek here. But there are tons of information bombarding techno-land with Infomercials, Pinterest Pins, Google Search, YouTube, etc. about the importance of eating a rainbow of colors everyday. Micro-nutrients can heal the body from the inside out.

As a inpatient nurse, I am constantly either replacing or reversing major micro-nutrients in my patients. There is a lot of great information and studies done by prestigious medical communities regarding the importance of getting essential vitamins and minerals to prevent nutrient – deficiency diseases and ailments. through eating healthier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/micronutrients-have-major-impact-on-health.

But how can you make simple changes that don’t eat up paychecks or make you buy lots of expensive pre-made meals or supplements that just leave you wanting to do this:

Below are 5 easy steps to get you and your family to eat more color. *

  1. Go invest in a color wheel or print one off from online. Take it shopping with you and make it a game. How many colorful foods can you find?
  2. Stick with fresh or frozen veggies/fruits. Canned foods are okay, but they do have less minerals and vitamins due to the high heat needed to safely process for a longer shelf life. Just read those labels and look for low sugar/low salt varieties preferably BPA free.
  3. Do a 30-day challenge. Pick one meal, (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and plan a menu. Make what you would normally eat for that meal but the goal will be to add at least 3 colorful fruits or veggies. Example: Mac and Cheese (box dinner) but add no less than three colorful veggies to that meal.
  4. Add a colorful fruit for dessert maybe with a little dab of Greek yogurt. For the kiddos, cut fruit out with cookie cutters or make “Ants on a Log” or Apple/Peanut Butter smiles. Make it fun!
  5. Track your progress. Make a color chart. Hang where you can see it and check off each time you eat something of that particular color. Here you will notice patterns. Are you eating a lot of greener things but less orange? How about purple and blue foods? Greek olives or pickled veggies are a great way to get those unique colors into your diet.

*If you are taking medicine that requires special dietary restrictions, please consult with your primary care provider.

Feel free to like and share this 30-day challenge with others. Please subscribe and share your comments and pictures with me about your experience after adding more color to your meals.

Here’s to a Colorful Healthier YOU, Cheers!

Chatterbox

Gma’s Pod Tour

In 2018, I completely downsized from a 5-bedroom, 3000 sq.ft. home and multi-income property to 200 sq. ft. of living space. This space once was part of a small efficiency apartment and our family business office, then converted to a one-room school room during my children’s homeschooling years and later became my art studio.

Now it has become my co-housing/co-living “Gma (Grandma) Pod, that I share with my daughter’s family. As a baby boomer and grandma, I now spend more time creating in my art studio and writing my blog and less time working on the road as a travel nurse.

I share some living area necessities like a bathroom, laundry area, and running water but I also have my own entrance and live independently from my daughter’s family.

I enjoy the companionship and security of their presence while spending more time with my two grandsons.

Don’t forget to share and like this video on YouTube

Chatterbox

“Drop me a Line”

When was the last time someone said to you, “Drop me a line”?

When was the last time you got a simple handwritten note or letter in the mail?

Heck, I only mailed out two Christmas cards this year which went out to my children and their family’s that live outside of the United States. I find it hard to spend money on things people will just toss out after a few weeks or months. I decided to purchase and send Christmas cards that were Chinese paper quill frameable art, hoping that they will frame them and put out during the holiday seasons for years to come.

As a practicing minimalist, I like to keep a narrow threshold of materialistic things from entering my personal space. Taking me less than 15 minutes this morning. I cleaned my 425 sq. ft. of living area which I affectionately call my “Grandma Pod”. I really don’t regret my decision to keep things minimal after owning and caring for a 5-bedroom, home, rentals, and large yard for almost 30 years.

I enjoy the freedom it brings to my life as I continue as a travel nurse. Technology has been a great way for me to keep the paper clutter minimal and I find myself frustrated at times when I receive unnecessary junk mail. Even more annoyed with political organization advertisements with elections only 10 months away.

It pains me, that even in a more paperless society, we still have so much waste in paper products. Have you ever watched a movie where someone comes across some old box or trunk tucked away in a dusty old attic somewhere?

The actor/actress will gingerly open the treasured box or trunk and sort through the items until they come across a letter or papers. Maybe they find a bunch of letters that have been bound together with a tattered old string, much like presents for the finders to read with muse.

Were they from a lover, a friend, a spouse, a war hero, someone who has passed?

Handwritten letters and notes are a tangible extension of the writer. We try to imagine them as they sat and wrote them. Were they happy, sad, joyful or hopeful? Was their handwriting representative of textbook cursive, printed block letters or swirly and whimsical? Do the stamps on the envelopes have some cultural story of the day and times or hobby/interest of the writer?

I have letters on military stationary from my first husband which he wrote to me while in the Army. I own notes from an athletic boyfriend that are folded in tiny footballs, that he punted to me with a finger flick behind the teachers back across the classroom that landed into my lap. I have “I love you, Mom” notes and cards from my children written in preschool and school age scribbles. Jokes written in my Dad’s whimsical handwriting inside cards.

So, when I downsized, I had to decide what to keep and not keep. I could have easily scanned or taken pictures of all those notes, cards and letters and keep them handy on a flash drive. Or keep a chosen few with significant meanings that could be treasured in their original form. I decided on the later.

So, today as I was cleaning and decided to sort through any unnecessary clutter; which still seems to have a way of accumulating even with practicing strict minimalism decision making practices. I came across these beautiful note cards below. The art was done by my 5-year-old grand-daughter and given as a gift to me last year for Christmas.

Lots of Spots!

Signed on the back by my grand-daughter as the Artist and her Age at the time. This was a wonderful and thoughtful fundraiser gift idea done by her playcentre and printed by www.kidsartworks.co.nz.

I have decided that it’s time to sit down and “drop a line” to those I failed to send a Christmas card to this year. So, if you are lucky to be on the receiving side of this particular card maybe you will be less likely to add it to the rubbish bin and use it as some frameable art. You never know, the artist may be the next Jackson Pollack.

Chatterbox

Do Your Dream

Travel nursing means I spend a lot of time being a tourist and living out of Rubbermaid containers 8-10 months out of the year. I am always in search of amazing regional food, local & cultural activities and making new friends. Thank you Yelp and TripAdvisor!

When the opportunity arises, not only do I try to immerse myself in the region, culture, art and cuisine of the local area but I like advancing my skills as a baker and cook, taking classes that are significant to the locale. Then the real joy is re-creating and sharing my new food experiences and skills with co-workers, family and friends. Food has a unique language all its own and it provides a common ground that people can enjoy and relate to.

I drag my hand-written recipes in two pretty blue recipe boxes with me on the road everywhere. “Oh, what are those, you say? I’ll explain later”… but it’s something that us “old broads used before Pinterest, Tasty and All Recipes came along. Staying healthy and fit as a travel nurse is challenging but the real challenge is when you’re constantly fighting menopause, genetics and the burning desire to eat every damn sweet thing available in a 25-100-mile radius. Under Recipe Box you will find healthy recipes and some that are bad as hell for the waste-line and for that reason I will rate them (Very Good, Good, and Oh shit, Hide the Scale!).

A few years ago, I completely embarked on my minimalist lifestyle and took a six-month unpaid sabbatical leave from Travel nursing to relearn self-care along with a lil’ sprinkle of fairy dust called “self-love” and rekindled my passions for writing and art.

Now that I have a little more time to create, I recently opened my first Etsy Shop where I can sell my art I’ve been creating in my Art Studio. I feel that I have a new purpose in life and want to inspire others to use “Artsightful Meditation and Creation”, a technique I have developed while learning to find a healthier way to deal with the physical and psychological stressors that I encounter working in the healthcare environment and I can’t wait to share!

I’m dusting off the cobwebs on all those stories tucked in big white binders and assorted notebooks collecting on my desk at my Gma (Grandma) Pod in Wisconsin and share some of the shenanigans rolling around in my head. learn more About

My memories of Grandma, aka (Gma) Pronounced…( Jee- ma) and our time spent together, reminds me everyday, to live my dreams no matter what others “think“, “feel” or “want” me to do.

Sometimes, when I’m driving down the highway with thousands of miles between destinations, I can still picture her next to me in that huge, hard top 1959 Ford, as she drove us to the lake cottage. All the windows down, and her hair tightly wrapped in a colorful scarf all “Hollywood Style”, eyebrows painted on, barely visible above her eye glasses. She turns and smiles at me, her “baker hands” tightly gripping the wheel as we flew down the highway while the sweet smell of freshly mowed  hay fields filled the swirling air around us“.

It’s the simple pleasure of the journey no matter how long the road may be. We all have our own path and those we will meet along the way but ultimately it drives us to our final destination.

Do Your Dream!

I hope you enjoy my Blog about My Travel, My Life, My Art, My Food. I will have a lot of pretty cool pictures, some really fun and heartwarming stories, self-discovery tips, art you can buy and recipes you can try. I will be posting 2-3 times a week. So, as long as it takes you to drink your morning coffee, eat your lunch, sneak precious quiet time during the kid’s or hubby’s nap-time, trying to stay calm while waiting in line at the DMV or just killing time on the shitter. I will be here.

Thank you for visiting and if you like what you read or want to read and learn more? Then don’t forget to subscribe before you go. You will be notified whenever I post something new on my site. Like and share me on Facebook. Look me up on Pinterest and Instagram. You have something you would like to share with me? Drop me a comment. Remember I don’t do bad attitudes and let’s keep it PG-13. Peace