A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Oh, the things we can learn from a starfish!

One of the most well-known attributes of star fish (more correctly called sea stars because they are not actually fish) is that they can regrow an arm when it has been cut off by a predator - that's what I call being resilient! In the psychology of wellness and mental health, there has been a lot of research on the concept of "resilience" - the ability to bounce back. When comparing two people who had very difficult childhoods, the one who is happier and has more success in life, despite their background, is the one who is more resilient in their thinking. Some research coming out of Canada recently has discovered that you can actually TEACH resilience to children, in very simple but effective ways, reducing their risk for depression.

Some sea stars can not only regrow an arm but can regenerate a body and four other arms from a single arm that has been removed! And sea stars can intentionally drop an arm to escape a predator. Now that not only makes a sea star resilient but makes it a survivor! It's a "star of the sea", if you will (OK maybe that's a bit hokey but it reminds me of this lovely little book we used to read to the kids.)

Probably a lesser-known trait of sea stars is that they are incredibly strong - those arms can wrap around a clam or mussel and pry them open - just enough to eat them! And of course those arms can be very flexible and can take the sea star over or around most any obstacle.

The sea star clip represents my ongoing work with my 12-year-old son, who we jokingly call "Starfish" because when he has to share a bed with someone he does the "starfish" with arms and legs spreading to each corner of the bed. Mitchell struggles with anxiety, especially around sleeping, so we are working with him on being stronger, more flexible, and more resilient - in his thinking!

I "earned" the sea star charm (which, by the way, is very realistic looking) after achieving my goal last winter of getting to the gym twice a week for two months - getting stronger and more flexible. It was part of my plan for being more resilient and beating the winter blues. Going to the gym provided not only exercise but, because I was going to the Y where I used to work as a Personal Trainer, it also meant I would see people and not isolate, which often happens when I am depressed.

I approached the manager at the Y and we arranged that I would do some free workshops for the personal trainers on staff in exchange for access to the facilities. The workshops were very well received so of course that was a good boost and reminded me of what I'm good at! The unexpected bonus was that I ended up taking the bus downtown at the same time as my husband on his way to work. That allowed us to spend more time together, strengthening our relationship. So this sea star charm is on my "Gift from the Sea" bracelet, named after one of my favourite books, and will remind me to be like the star of the sea - strong, flexible and resilient - a survivor!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Drop and give me 20 hugs!

Apparently my ankle is pissed off! According to the physiotherapist I saw yesterday. Well, I'm pissed off too!

I hurt my foot when we were on vacation the first week of April. Since then I kept hoping that if I just rested it the pain would go away. It didn't! Stupid foot!

elegant embrace spacers and T-shirt charm
I had a very bad ankle sprain when I was in university playing on the varsity volleyball team (over 30 years ago). I tore the ligament that holds the bottom of the tibia and fibula together (the two bones in the lower leg) and tore the membrane between the two bones. At the time, the athletic therapist said I should rest (a four-letter word to an athlete) because I was at risk of developing compartment syndrome - very bad swelling in the group of muscles in the shin, limiting blood flow - and I could develop drop foot. But I was a teenager, and I was - in my mind at least - invincible, so I said, "Tape me up Coach! I'm going in!" Especially since I was playing for my province in the Canada Games!

They also warned me that I would most likely develop osteoarthritis or some other foot problem by the time I was forty. Sure enough, right at forty I had mechanical problems with my foot, had a lot of physio, and wore an ankle brace, especially if I was walking on uneven surfaces.

Now that I am almost fifty, those two leg bones are splaying apart and causing my ankle bone to get stuck. Whenever I stand or walk my ankle locks. And it is extremely painful! And I am pissed!

But calling my foot "Stupid" is not going to heal it. And admittedly I have worse names I use for this as well as various other body parts that I'm not happy with. I'll do physio, and I will learn how to tape it. Maybe I'll try underwater exercise equipment, or the latest gravity-free treadmill. Or maybe I'll have to have a big ole screw put in to hold those two bones together.

But right now I need that ankle to calm down - and I need to stop pissing it off! I need to be gentle on it, and treat it with loving kindness.

Now there's a concept! Maybe I could try treating mySELF with loving kindness! I am trying to come to terms with the idea that "I can't HATE myself to health." I've tried. Believe me, I've tried hating. It doesn't work. Beating myself up just leads to annoyance, aggravation, frustration, impatience... well, you get the idea!
So I thought I'd try something different - I will LOVE myself to health. It's a tough concept. But I have a charm for that! The T-shirt charm with the gold heart was one of the first charms I bought over two years ago at the beginning of my recovery. And it represents one of the most important of my affirmations: "I love and accept myself, as I am."

Pssst! I don't really but I am going to say it to myself, over and over. I will "fake it til I make it."

So what does that love and acceptance mean?

First of all, it means acknowledging the current situation, rather than looking the other way and hoping that this will go away if I ignore it long enough - aka "sticking your head in the sand", something that I am quite skilled at!  Someone suggested this is happening because I need to learn this and this injury is forcing me to accept the situation and learn to take better care of myself. Another person suggested that, like someone who is in a wheelchair, I may need to learn that I'm still valuable, even if I can't use my legs.

Secondly, acceptance means being honest with myself and accepting the fact that I am overweight and out of shape. It's not a judgement, it's just a fact. I have to find a way to exercise that doesn't involve being on my feet or bending my ankle. Chair aerobics anyone?

So my goal (in addition to not pissing off my ankle) is to try to "embrace" myself with compassion by practicing a special kind of meditation. After two weeks of daily practice I will reward myself with the "elegant embrace" spacers for my lavender-periwinkle "Serenity" bracelet.

Serendipitously, my brother came to visit last week to attend a two-day workshop on Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT). He explained the concept and it seemed to resonate with me, given my history of anxiety and negative self-talk. After seeing the physio yesterday I realized I need to learn how to do this. I'm going to practice. Because I suck at being compassionate! I should say I suck at being compassionate with myself.... I shouldn't say "I suck"... I shouldn't say "should"... Clearly I need to work on this!

I need to stop should-ing all over myself!

I'll let you know how I do.

If you are interested in learning more, or trying the practice yourself, please click on the link below.
Compassionate Mind Training podcast with guided meditation and imagery exercises

Friday, 23 May 2014

Do my kids know they are my "treasured hearts"?

When Pandora first released these effervescence muranos I was intrigued by the name. I usually think of "effervescence" as carbonation of a drink or "bubbly." But my dictionary app says it also means, "to show enthusiasm, excitement, liveliness, etc." Well, I have never been accused of being subtle, calm, or subdued - I could do "effervescent!" - making these perfect for my newly completed "Treasured Hearts" bracelet. Because I want to SHOW my husband and my twelve-year-old twins that they are my "treasured hearts."

Not long before our twins were born I had an Ah-ha moment. There was an episode on Oprah where Toni Morrison was being interviewed as the author in that month's book club. She asked a very simple question, "When your child walks into a room, does your face light up?"
Morrison says that's what our kids are looking for. But she recalled that whenever she saw HER kids she was looking at them with a critical eye - had they buckled their trousers or combed their hair? She felt that she was "caring" for them but what they SAW was a critical face. She realized that her inner love was not shining through, and she made an effort to change that. She suggests, "Let your face speak what's in your heart" - it shows a child, "I'm glad to see you."

It was an Ah-ha moment for Oprah too. She said, "That is how you learn what your value is. Not by what the person is saying to you but what you feel." And I want my family to know I value them - treasure them, in fact!

My daughter has dyslexia and for the last two years she has gone to a tutor after school for 90 minutes, three days a week. Her tutor has been sick lately and I have to admit it has been so nice to have Taylor come home after school. She always has lots to share with me - about a gym class where she led the warm-up, a field trip they were on, a book she and her friends are reading, or an intramural sport she played at lunch.

So I set a goal for myself, to be there when my kids come home from school, and ready to be "on" as a parent - not busy on the computer, or involved in another activity. I want them to see that I'm happy to see them when they walk in the door! I want to discuss homework, but I also want to hear about their day! They have chores to do, but I'm also happy to make them a snack and we can visit. So I've "earned" these muranos in the last few weeks, and they will remind me to "be effervescent (excited and enthusiastic) when I see my kids."

Even though they are called "purple" these muranos are almost a fuchsia colour and go perfectly with the rhodolite and "treasured hearts" charms on my "Treasured Hearts" bracelet.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

With a little help from my friends

You probably know the story of the Princess and the Pea, but do you know the story of the Princess and the Tulip?

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, the Dutch Royal Family fled to the safety of England - which was not much safer due to the aerial bombing. Queen Wilhelmina decided to send her daughter and heir, Princess Julianna, and her two small children, to Canada. Under the greatest of secrecy, Princess Juliana and her children were driven to Wales to board a Dutch ship headed for Canada.

The family found a safe harbour in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and the city where I now live. In 1943 Margriet was born in a hospital that's walking distance from my home. However, in order to inherit the throne of the Netherlands, the heir had to be born on Dutch soil - so the maternity ward was declared international territory.

During the Nazi occupation, the birth of the princess provided a boost to the Dutch people, and her name Margriet (Daisy) was a symbol of resilience and strength. Not long after, Canadian troopers liberated the Netherlands and the princesses returned home. In 1945 the Dutch Royal Family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for sheltering the family. The tulip became a gift in perpetuity, and the Royal family continues to donate 10,000 tulip bulbs each year to the Canadian people.

Ottawa now has the largest tulip festival in the world, where there are 1 million tulips in bloom each May. I've included some photos I took at the festival last weekend. And the tulip remains a symbol of international friendship.

I consider myself very fortunate to have developed some truly wonderful international friendships through collecting Pandora charms. When I first started my Pandora journey I couldn't believe the posts I was seeing on Facebook about virtual strangers sending money to each other to buy charms! But when I was struggling to get through each day it provided me with a strange sense of hope. Planning which charms I might want to buy, from places as far-flung as Portugal or Australia, gave me something to look forward to - when I didn't feel that there WAS much to look forward to! And when I was ready, many of my friends helped me find retired charms from around the world.

The only problem was, I would beat myself up because I didn't feel like I was BEING a good friend.  When you struggle with depression it can be hard to do even the most basic thing, like answering messages, getting out to a store, figuring out how to package a charm for mailing, or getting to the post office - and it can all feel a little overwhelming! So last winter I did manage to "get it together" and help some Pandora friends, and I rewarded myself with this tulip charm with the aquamarine dangle. And I wear it on my Lucerne Recovery bracelet to remind me that "I'm not perfect but I am able to be a good friend." This charm represents all the international friends I have made through Pandora and all the support and encouragement they have all given me over the last two years as I shared with them my recovery from an eating disorder and depression.


Do you have the tulip charm? What does it represent for you?

By the way, that part of the story about Margriet is making me think maybe a daisy charm would be good to represent resilience and strength.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Getting my priorities straight!

What is your number one priority? When I do workshops for women, whether it's on strength-training or making lifestyle changes, I always ask them to list their top three priorities. Take a minute and think about it. What are your top three priorities? Maybe write them down.

If you are like most people, particularly most women, your list included your family, your kids if you have any, your work or career, maybe your marriage, or even your community or volunteer work. These are the things we are committed to. But nobody ever says their health. Or if they do say it, they certainly don't put it at the top of the list.

But think about it, where would you be without your health? Could you do those things that you are committed to? Can you take good care of your children? Can you be an equal partner in your marriage? Or make a difference in your work or community? Without your health you cannot take care of the people in your life. Your health needs to be your #1 priority!

This is hard for me! As a woman, and a mother, but also because of my upbringing, I find it very hard to make myself, and my health, a priority. And I need constant reminding! So my husband bought this #1 blue ribbon charm for me early in my recovery and I wore it on my teal and turquoise "Recovery" bracelet to remind me that "My health is my number one priority!"

My husband added, by the way, that in addition to my affirmation about my health he also wanted me to know that I am a #1 mom and a #1 wife! Yes, he's a keeper! You can see from the photo how well "loved" this charm is. It is now the centrepiece of My Number One Son bracelet, because I always tell my (one and only) son that he is "my favourite boy in the whole wide world."

This reminds me of when I was breastfeeding my twins - yes, both at the same time, in football hold. I knew that if I didn't eat enough or drink enough that I would not produce enough breast milk, that I literally could not feed my children! I remember one night I felt dehydrated but I couldn't hold a water bottle, since I was holding two little heads to my breasts. So I jerry-rigged my water bottle so that it hung around my neck and I could drink from a straw! Are you picturing it? Oh, gosh, so sorry! But it did work! In fact I produced so much milk they called me the Dairy Queen!

But think about it. What does the flight attendant tell you during your inflight safety instructions? About the oxygen masks? If you are travelling with a dependent, please place the mask on yourself before assisting your dependent. Whether it's an elderly person or a child, you need to put the mask on yourself first! You can not help your dependents if you are not breathing!

When I went back to teaching four days a week in the fall of 2012 I got up early to go for a Wildflower Walk and have a shower before everyone else was moving. I've heard women recommend this over the years - taking time for themselves FIRST! But I am SO not a morning person! I could never envision it working for me! But I came to see that mommy was much happier, more patient, and less irritable if I filled my bucket first. There needs to be a Pandora charm for "fill my bucket first", but for now there's the #1 blue ribbon. Taking those early morning walks, often in the dark during the Fall and Winter here in Canada, were very meditative. I only walked one city block but I actually started to notice that by the time I rounded the fourth corner of the block I would have a big sigh, and feel calmer, feeling the tension leave my body. I think that is what is supposed to happen when you meditate and with practice it becomes easier to draw upon that calmness when needed. I'm still working on that last part!

Wildflower Walk charm to the left of the mother dangle
For Mother's Day last weekend, I re-read a book that my mother had written about her journey living with blindness in the latter third of her life. In reading that, I discovered that my mom had been a walker! During the time she was losing her sight and dealing with the uncertainty of her future, she said she got rid of her frustration by walking. Apparently when she was working, she went for a walk every morning, taking the time for herself every day before the mad rush to get us and herself off to school and work. Of course I was very likely still in bed and had never thought about what she might be doing while I was still sawing logs. I'm so glad to know about this, even after all these years. I am pleased to know that she took that time for herself. That makes her a good role model for me as a parent, and a woman, and I will pass on to my daughter that it is important to take time for yourself, maybe even with meditative walks, when you are one day a wife and mother. So the Wildflower Walk charm now resides on my pink and red Flower Power bracelet that includes charms about the lessons, like these, that I learned from my mother, and hope to pass on to my daughter.

Do you take time for yourself? Do you fill your bucket first? I'm wondering if, just maybe, there might be a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza. But I am going to try to get up a little earlier this week. Anyone care to join me?

Friday, 16 May 2014

Who inspires you? A reflection on Mother's Day

When I was first pregnant, before even knowing I was carrying twins, my husband and I visited my brother and his wife who live a few hours away from us in Montreal. We were excited to see our new nephew and celebrate my sister-in-law's first Mother's Day. We visited the beautiful Botanical Garden, and I'll always remember the group of us sitting under a cherry tree in full bloom. I have associated Mother's Day with cherry blossoms ever since. And so my mother-daughter bracelet started with the cherry blossom muranos and clips.
Where I live in Ottawa we have a large research facility in the heart of the city called the National Experimental Farm, which is a working farm, over 100 years old, as well as an agricultural museum, arboretum and flower garden. Now that I am a mom myself, we always spend some time at "the farm" on Mother's Day. I take pictures of cherry and apple blossoms and my kids climb trees in the arboretum. Unfortunately we had a very long cold winter this year and the trees were not in bloom last weekend for Mother's Day, so these photos are from last year.

I'm not much of a soft pink sort of lady, so in planning my cherry blossom mother-daughter bracelet I decided to bring out the red in the muranos and use oxidized charms for a little "edge." I wanted to wear both parts of the mother-daughter dangles myself, to represent two of my most important jobs in life, being a mother to my twins AND being a daughter to my mother who passed away six years ago. When I look at those dangles now, I remember that my mother always said, "I'm lucky to have such a good daughter." I didn't always feel like I was a "good daughter," especially in the last five years of her life when I was trying to juggle caring for my young twins and caring for an aging parent, in the typical mode of the "sandwich generation." 

When my mother moved from my hometown to a retirement home in my current city, it wasn't long before our roles became reversed and I was the "parent" taking care of her. And there was a lot to do. My mother wore hearing aids, which needed cleaning and new batteries, and eventually were replaced with digital ones. She was legally blind and used a white cane; although once she was here, her mobility had been reduced to the point where she always used a walker and eventually a wheelchair. Before moving here she had had numerous osteoporotic fractures in her spine, and a number of falls, resulting in fractures of her wrist and ankle. After living here for just a year she had a more serious fall that resulted in a hip fracture. At that time we also saw behaviours that led eventually to a diagnoses Alzheimer Disease, a big blow to all of us.

The next year, while trying to close a curtain in her room, Mom lost her balance and fell into a wall, dislocating her shoulder and breaking her collarbone. Because of the Alzheimer's she was pretty "confused" by that point and as we arrived at the hospital in the ambulance she said, "Weren't we just here last week?" I told her that it had been a year, almost to the day, since she'd been here after breaking her hip. Mom always managed to keep her sense of humour and thought it was pretty funny that the doctor was teasing her that her injuries were consistent with a hockey player being slammed into the boards. Of course she told him she was too old for that, she was 65!  I gently corrected her and said she was almost 80. Her response was, "Well damn, I thought I was younger than that! How did that happen?" 

One of my mother's greatest joys was becoming a grandmother, first to my brother's son, and then 8 months later to our twins. She was always excited to hear stories about my twins - and she shared them with anyone who was willing to listen! One of the things I miss most about her is talking to her about my kids. She was always so positive about my parenting, and frequently told me I was a "great mother."

All this to say, I use the red heart dangles to try to remember what my mother would want me to say to myself: "I was a good daughter, and I am a great mother." I still need constant reminding! My children gave me the new "rose garden" clip and openworks "abundance of love" charm for Mother's Day this year, finishing my "Flower Power" bracelet.
A few years ago my daughter was doing a school project and asked me, "Who inspires you Mommy?" My answer was that both she, Taylor, and my Mom were my biggest inspirations, because they were both so resilient (she wrote in her project that I was HER inspiration, by the way.). Some of these charms on my "Flower Power" bracelet were originally earned in my recovery from my eating disorder, and they now represent some of the lessons I want to pass on to Taylor. But they also represent the lessons I have learned from my daughter, and from my mother, my greatest teachers and inspirations.

Who inspires you?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Finding motivation and building habits

mock orange blossoms
Fast forward two years from my last post and the Wildflower Walk has become an essential part of trying to stay healthy - in mind AND body. After returning home from the vacation when I started the wildflower walks (now called WW in my agenda) I decided that my objective would be to simply walk around the block - it's about half a kilometre.  It's important in setting goals that they feel achievable and a city block definitely felt do-able. I was fairly consistent with the walks, but I really had to push myself to get out the door, which I think is pretty typical of anyone trying to work on a program of exercise or lifestyle change.
Shortly after I started my walks I noticed a fabulous perfume at one point on my walk and realized it was coming from a tree in a neighbour's front yard - a tree I was not familiar with. The next time I went, I took my camera so I could post a photo of the blossoms on Facebook and ask friends if they knew what it was. The answer: mock orange - with a beautiful aroma that I now look forward to every spring!

After that I took my camera with me every time I went for a walk, and kept taking photos of flowers I didn't recognize - and quizzing people. Eventually I just started looking forward to taking photos of flowers. I would go early in the morning before it was too hot for me, and when there was softer morning light for photos. When I didn't feel like walking I was still very curious about what flowers might be in bloom that day and THAT got me out the door!
yellow tiger lilies
purple cone flowers
I kept up my daily walks throughout the fall leading up to the one year anniversary of my recovery from my eating disorder in December 2012. I even walked through the winter when there were no flowers left!  I actually got to the point where an early morning WW was a habit. I no longer wondered, "Am I going to have a chance to go for a walk today?" and it became deciding, "WHEN will I go for a walk?" to eventually not even wondering or deciding, just doing it. It was so automatic that when my alarm went off I just got up, went downstairs, put on my coat and headed out the door. One morning when I did this I happened to look at the clock on the stove and it said 4 am or some time ridiculously early! Turns out someone in Portugal (in a different time zone!) had commented on a post on Facebook and the phone had beeped to notify me! I obviously mistook that for my morning alarm, and like Pavlov's dog I just responded as I was conditioned to do! After realizing the un-Godly hour I just walked back upstairs and laid back down. In the morning my husband Mike was a little surprised to see me facedown in bed, dressed - and still in my winter boots!

By the way, I quickly learned how to turn off the notifications on my phone and Facebook account!

These retired gold-tipped flowers (on either side of the dangle) on my "Serenity" bracelet were the first charms I bought just because I thought they were so beautiful! But they have a very important job of reminding me that there are always moments to "find beauty every day!"

Friday, 9 May 2014

Walk this way - in the moment

This is a re-post: text and photo from April 2012

My "Flower Power" bracelet
Having recognized that I have an eating disorder, I have done lots of work on my issues and have now been symptom-free for a little over 4 months - no bingeing, purging, or restricting. One of the things that has made a difference for me is having goals and rewards. When setting goals they say you should have SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reward-based, and Timed. So I have set weekly goals and my reward has been Pandora charms for my charm bracelet - something that I am VERY motivated to achieve.
This past week my goal was to go for a walk every day. I am having trouble with my left knee, and with physio the pain had decreased, and so the physio told me to start walking, and do squats and side-lying leg raises. Our family was away for a week's vacation at our time-share so it was a good time to make some charges in my habits without all the stress of school, household chores, etc. The goal was to go outside for a walk every day (Specific), didn't matter how long or how fast, just go for a walk (Measurable), which seemed pretty realistic (Attainable) since I had two ten-year-olds who don't like to sit still for very long, and at the end of one week (Timed) I would get a charm (Reward-based).

The Pandora charm that I chose is called "Wildflower Walk" (second from the right in the photo). A wildflower walk to me signifies a walk that is not a power walk, or even a brisk walk, just a walk through the wildflowers. Of course given that it was the end of March, there were no wildflowers through which to walk, but still lots to see.  

I wanted to think of walking as a meditative process. No measuring of heart rates or speed or distance. To just be present and mindful of my surroundings, and as was the case last week, to also be present and mindful of those I was with, usually my twins.

In her book The Artist's Way, and the books following that, Julia Cameron suggests walking as one of her basic tools in her spiritual path of creativity. She says, "Walking, the simplest of tools, is among the most profound," and that when we walk, "we experience 'conscious contact' with a power greater than ourselves."

Well, we walked the path along the water's edge, with the kids stopping to throw rocks onto the thin sheets of ice on the lake, pick up sticks, or climb some rocks. We walked into town to the convenience store and the post office.  We walked to the tennis court so the kids could bat some balls around. We walked some roads just to see where they went. Sometimes the kids rode their scooters, sometimes they ran ahead, sometimes we walked hand-in-hand. But every day we got out and walked.

Cameron suggests that when walking, "Almost without noticing it, we become engaged with a world larger than ourselves and our concerns." Well, we noticed the temperature. We noticed the wind. We noticed the birds that had returned. We noticed the sound of the wind in the tall pine trees.  We noticed the way the rain had carved out the sand at the beach. The walking was, as Cameron describes it, "an exercise in heightened and intensified spiritual listening."

Now that I am back in the city there will not be many fields of wildflowers - although we do get quite a collection of weeds in our garden. But the crocuses are poking out their brave heads, and the daffodils are inching their way up. So my daily walks will allow me to observe the not-so-wild flowers of my neighbours' gardens. Somehow going for a daily "wildflower walk" - as I will continue to call them - is so much more appealing than just "going for a walk." Maybe that is what Cameron means when she says we walk to "shift" our consciousness.

Cameron promises that, "As casual as a walk may seem, profound wisdom can be its byproduct." Spiritual seekers have always walked - whether pilgrimages, walkabouts, or vision quests. St. Augustine said, "It is solved by walking." Whatever "it" is, I will continue my "wildflower walk" to help mend the mind/body split and get out of my head and into my body. And maybe fix-up my knee and get ready for tennis.

Updated: these links will take you to the Facebook photo albums of flowers I took on my Wildflower Walks 2012 and Wildflower Walks 2013

Related Posts:

Finding motivation and building habits - a story about how the Wildflower Walks turned into finding a new passion in photographing flowers and discovering a significant new affirmation - and the charm that represents it

Winter Wonderland - a story about how my "Wildflower Walks" turned into "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" and how that helped me Beat the Winter Blues - and the charm that represents it.

Can you see what's there? It's a wonderland - a story about how looking around you and seeing beauty can help in the recovery from food issues, as well as healing personally and spiritually; I've also included a short piece about my mother's battle with Alzheimer's - and the charm that represents it.