Recovering From Fibromyalgia (Part 2)

A fibromyalgia diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end of everything fun. Here’s the rest of the story of how I got back to feeling like a Rock Star (or, if you remember the 80’s, better than a Rock Star most likely.HA)

2. Exercise.

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Your body was made to  move, not made to sit on your ass all day every day. But, modern living being what it is, we all have to make a living. That is what makes exercise doubly important.

I know it’s hard to start new habits, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to feel better.

Exercise is also one of those things that’s a process. You need to do it consistently. Find something that you enjoy doing that helps you move.

Be patient! We live in such an instant gratification society that when people don’t get fit or feel better instantly, they give up.

If you’re starting an exercise program for the first time, start out slow. Walk 5 or 10 minutes every day for a couple of weeks to give yourself time to adjust. Each week after that, add a couple of minutes or a couple of blocks.

For instance, let’s say you’ve decided to take the plunge and start exercising. The absolute worst thing you can do is overdo and end up really sore, which makes you dread your workouts. You’re simply dooming yourself to fail if that’s the road you take.

For example, what if you started walking 5 minutes every day for a week. That’s it. Just 5 minutes a day. The next week, add two minutes per day, and the next week, another two minutes. That’s 120 seconds of additional walking per day each week. Then continue adding two more minutes per per day each week after that.

At the end of 3 months, you’d be walking almost 30 minutes per day. If you walked 6 days per week, that’s THREE hours of exercise a week! Phenomenal! See how it adds up, folks? Where else would you be in 3 months?

Just think: you went from ZERO to THREE hours a week in only THREE months. That doesn’t sound too shabby, does it? And you only started with 5 minutes per day.

I’m a Slow and Steady Wins the Race kind of gal myself, that’s why I think this way.

Progress is still progress, however long it takes. Do you think it matters now that it took me 12 years to finish my college degree? Heck no! And as far as I was concerned, it didn’t even matter then! 😀

Jackin steel

Once you’re up to speed with a walking program, gradually add in some weight bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise is so important to prevent osteoporosis as well as help keep your strength up as you age. Weight-bearing exercise will help you balance out your body strength so you don’t fall, help slow or prevent your muscles from shrinking which naturally occurs as you age, and help you get up off the toilet. 😉

I highly recommend consulting with a trainer or utilizing machines to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly in order to prevent injury. Again, work up slowly.

When I started lifting weights is when I really started to see improvement.

And remember: not all muscle soreness is bad!

If you’re starting an exercise program, you may feel some soreness. A little soreness is natural; you just want to avoid the intense muscle soreness that hurts so much it discourages you. Shoot, if you’ve ever had a massage, you know your muscles are sometimes sore afterwards.

This does not mean it’s bad, or that your fibromyalgia is acting up. There IS a difference.

3. Consider Supplementation.

2015-01-12 15.47.56You’re right, this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. 😉

Do you take a probiotic regularly? If you don’t, you should. A probiotic is an over-the-counter supplement which contains good bacteria to keep your gut healthy. Gut health, or lack thereof, is a factor behind many illnesses. While you may not notice an immediate improvement upon taking it, over the long term it makes a huge difference.

If you don’t like or eat seafood, check out a good quality fish oil supplement.

Talk to your doctor about other supplements. Besides a probiotic, I take Vitamin C, Vitamin D (unless I’m out in the sun), and Magnesium. I also am an avid user of essential oils, which promote and support good health, energy and a healthy immune system without adding chemicals to my life.

4. Get Plenty of Sleep.

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Wind down naturally at the end of the day, allowing yourself some time to relax, at least an hour before bed.

Stay off electronic devices. Make sure your room is dark; get some blackout drapes if you have to. Keep a small flashlight by the bed for bathroom breaks.

Watch your alcohol intake; it can be especially disruptive to sleep. (I know this from experience.)

Try bathing at night instead of a shower if you have a tub to help you relax. Rub your pillow with lavender (a good quality essential oil) to help you sleep. I diffuse lavender at night, which helps us relax and sleep better.

Try some gentle stretches to release muscle tension and prepare your body physically for sleep.

Consider the use of white noise to help you sleep better and block out other noises. My husband and I use a fan. The TV does NOT count as white noise, sorry. 😀

5. Take Care of Yourself.

Keeping your stress level low is incredibly important. Learn to say no, stop trying to do everything, recognize your limitations, and give yourself a break.

I have taken up yoga this year, and I really love what it does for me, mentally and physically.

2015-03-07 09.56.56Not to mention the people in the class, of course. 😀

I hope you found this helpful, and wish you the best of luck in your journey to good health. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts! But day to day, it will make a difference. 🙂


The Daytona 500: Taking Shelter From the Storm

Today’s NASCAR race in Bristol is on rain-delay, as I write this; three weeks ago we were at the Daytona 500, which was also rain-delayed.  So it’s the perfect time to reminisce and tell you the Rest of the Story of our 2014 Daytona 500 adventure. 🙂

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Where I last left us in Part One of this story, we were standing under the cover of the speedway grandstands with our friends Tucker and Lisa, listening to the din of pouring rain thundering onto the aluminum grandstands.

It was incredibly crowded; 100,000 race fans in a mile-long grandstand are a LOT of people! Everyone scattered to take shelter, and we watched vehicles and people alike pass by us. We were on ground level, waiting for the pouring rain to let up.

The track had been lost long before now. By “lost”, I mean that there’s no hope of racing until the rain stops, and the jet dryers can do their job. If the rain stopped right at this minute, it would be at least an hour and a half (thanks to the Air Titans) before the race restarted.

Tornado warning radar

This was NASCAR_WXMAN’s 2:38 p.m. radar tweet showing the severe weather just north of us.

As we stood there, the Speedway began broadcasting messages urging fans to clear the grandstands and take shelter from severe weather in the Daytona area.

At 2:57 p.m., I received a text urging us to clear the grandstand and secure campsites due to severe weather in the area.

I don’t know about you guys, but the last place I want to be is stuck here in a panicking crowd,” my husband said. Images of being trampled went through all our minds. We all agreed, and as soon as the rain let up, we made a break for it.

It was still peppering rain. We had about a 15-minute walk back to our camper, and we walked and/or jogged as fast as we could.  There was a lot of standing water everywhere; it had rained so hard for so long it really didn’t have anywhere to go.

This was the first time I’d regretted my choice of footwear.

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I’d worn my rubber Croc sandals; they are comfortable, easy to walk in, and perfect on a hot day. It wasn’t so much the shoes were hard to move in; it was the fact that I’d lotioned my feet well that morning. Now that my feet were wet, they were like little slippery seals.

I could barely keep my shoes on! My feet kept slide sideways, one way or the other, and because my feet are the only part of me that is narrow, occasionally they would slide forward through the straps until the front half of my foot was exposed at the top.

I tried taking my shoes off, but the pavement was rough. Hampered by my shoes and concerned about the weather, it seemed like it took forever to get back to camp.

About 100 yards from the trailer, heavy rain began to fall again. My foot slid completely through my shoe again. I stopped to fix it, gave up, and hobbled on to the trailer.

We looked like drowned rats. 😀

Our friends Peggy and John were already there. They’d come back earlier at the first sign of rain.

At 3:07 p.m., I received another text from the Speedway advising us that we were under a tornado warning.

Although we’d cleaned up camp earlier that day, we’d left the trailer tailgate open. With the threat of severe weather imminent, Jimmy braved the pouring rain to close it while John helped him from the inside.

In the meantime, Speedway fire department personnel drove through the campground with bullhorns, advising anyone in camp to get in your vehicle and fasten seat belts.

2014-02-23 20.59.07This is a picture someone tweeted of a water spout, although the National Weather Service said it was too far away to confirm.

We debated what to do for a second, but looking around, we saw all the items in camp spaces around us which could become missiles in a high wind. A camper is just not the best place to be in a severe weather situation.

Jimmy tossed on dry clothes, he and John grabbed the dogs, and the four six of us piled into the pickup, started the engine and turned the radio on.

There was silence for a minute.

“Should I go get a cooler?” Jimmy asked. He darted in the trailer and returned two minutes later. We had no idea where any of our fellow campers were. Tucker and Lisa opted to head for a restaurant to be inside a building; we saw them drive by.

I texted friends to see where they were, and to see if they were safe. Most were still over at the Speedway.

We sat in the truck, watched it rain, and toasted life. And adventures in Daytona.

Potholes. Jet-dryer crashes. The first ever rain-out. Wow.

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This whole adventure seemed sort of surreal. Daytona is, if nothing else, full of surprises.

Ultimately, we all decided that if it was our time to leave this world, we were at least all together. Jimmy and I were together, we had our dogs with us, and two of our best friends who also happen to be our dogs’ godparents were there. We were all doing something we loved. What more could you ask for, really?

At 3:37 p.m., I received a text that the coast was clear and that the threat of severe weather had left the Speedway.

Thank goodness.

John and Peggy headed back to St. Augustine around 5 p.m. After the “36 Hours of Daytona” two years ago, they opted to watch the rest of it at home. Our friends Eugene and John also left, since they were planning on heading for him the following morning. (Gene, always resourceful, had found  a sheltered dry spot in the Speedway; he and John remained completely dry the whole time!)

The following day, the Weather Channel posted an unflattering article about the Speedway and the lack of notice to the fans.

Would I have left the Speedway earlier if I’d known there was lightning nearby? I’d like to think so, but at the end of the day, who really knows?

In spite of several years of emergency management and planning experience, we still found ourselves in this position. It was a series of decisions – and not all of them bad – based on the information that we had at the time that put us in this situation.

This storm blew up fast.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the green flag dropped and we were racing again.  With an ongoing threat of rain, drivers weren’t holding back. It was a really exciting race, in which the lead changes and green flag passing broke track records. Once the race got beyond the halfway point, whoever was in the lead when it rained would be the winner.

Emergency vehicles

You just never know. That’s Daytona. 🙂

Severe Weather At the Daytona 500 2014

I’m baaaackk! Poor internet connectivity (the woes of having a regional carrier) is the reason I’ve been missing in action the last few weeks. Rest assured, “management” is working on the problem. Management being me, of course. 😀

Photo by @pixelcrisp

Photo by @pixelcrisp

It’s Daytona.

If you’ve ever visited Daytona International Speedway, you were probably awestruck by it’s size and historical significance. It wouldn’t take you long to learn that the racing is unpredictable, unexpected, scary sometimes, and exciting.

The weather is the same way. February in central Florida is like May in the Midwest: anything can happen! This was our 11th Daytona 500. Every year, there’s at least one storm which goes, or has the potential to go severe.  (Hence, it didn’t take us long to learn that it was WAY too much work to decorate a campsite to only have to take it all back down again.)

Speedway personnel had been through our campground (on Speedway property just outside turns 1 and 2) on one occasion prior to Speedweeks to warn campers to ‘button down the hatches’.

In camper-speak, that means to roll up your awnings and put away anything that could blow away (e.g. become a missile in high winds.) This wasn’t our first rodeo: preparing the campsite and staying on top of the weather is something we’ve done over and over again.

2014-02-21 10.47.32For instance, this is way too much crap to have out in high winds. And notice no one has their awning out? Unless you stake it down, putting out your awning is asking for trouble.

So anyway, business had been picking up steadily as Speedweeks neared. On Wednesday before the 500, the town and Speedway grew even busier as the infield opened. There’s an excitement in the air, which increases day by day as the culmination of hard work, preparation, and the anticipation of a new season of racing grows near.

The day of the race dawned sunny and warm, with only a few passing clouds. It was going to be a perfect day for racing!

Things start happening early around the campsite. Friends who are driving in from another locale arrive between 9 and 10 a.m. to avoid traffic. The Goodyear blimp flies over, as well as planes towing banners. There’s various pools and wagers amongst friends. And a bittersweet awareness that while this is the day we’ve all been waiting for, it’s also the end of the road for our Campground Gang to be together until next time.

About an hour before race time, my friend Peggy and I began making preparations.

2014-02-23 11.37.08

There was only a 40% chance of rain in the forecast for that afternoon. However, Speedway personnel came through to alert campers of the possibility of severe weather. With the exception of closing the tailgate of our toy hauler, my husband loaded the Harley (we were leaving the next day anyway) and we secured the camp.

As race time grew near, cloud cover began to build, but the radar remained clear. We left for our seats around 1:00 p.m.; by that time, the campground was nearly a ghost town. We arrived at our seats just after the flyover, and in time to see the beginning caution laps.

Green, Green, Green!

Green, Green, Green!

Because Twitter is where I get most of my up-to-the-minute news, especially on race days, I jumped back and forth between it and the radar.

Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist in Idaho who refers to himself NASCAR’s unofficial weatherman, (@NASCAR_WXMAN) had been expecting the possibility of a rain delay for a couple of days.

At 1:40 p.m. Brian tweeted “anticipated storms were forming [ESE] of the track…are about 2 hours away with more possible to form.” It was apparently during this time frame the Daytona FanCam shot this picture of everyone in the stands, which shows me checking the Twitter feed. (Wonderful. At least I was in my seat.)

Daytona FanCam shot

Daytona FanCam shot

At 1:48 p.m., Brian tweeted “Danger, Will Robinson!” Radar update, cell popped up 8 miles WSW of Track.”

I checked my NOAA radar, which showed it as a very small system, mostly green with just a touch of yellow. This was not a big deal, and looked to be a passing shower.

At 1:58 p.m., I read Brian’s tweet which had been sent at 1:51 p.m.: Rain is about 3 to 8 min out WSW with in 3 miles of @DISupdates as of 1:51 pm ET. It’s always the rain you don’t see…

Well, pooh, by that time, it was very nearly there. I really didn’t want to get wet. And if you’re wondering how I missed the tweet…there was action happening on the track. There was a race going on, remember?

I told Jimmy a shower was coming; he said, “You’d better put your raincoat on.”

As I put my jacket on, we began to feel sprinkles. The field was under caution at the time, although not for rain. I saw a tweet that said Danica had asked her crew chief if she should come in for fuel and tires; he told no, that it was going to pour shortly.

I passed that information along to Jimmy, and told him I was headed in. I wasn’t going to sit in the pouring rain!

Yes, I am a fair weather race fan.

“Give me your rain jacket,” he said. (Only one of us brought rain gear that day.) I passed off the coat, and grabbed my bag. It was starting to pepper rain at this point.

@nascar_wxman update

@nascar_wxman update

This is a radar image I missed that day via Twitter. That cell was much smaller on my NOAA app. Either my radar image hadn’t been updated and I didn’t notice, or the cell simply blew up really quickly.

If I’d seen this coming, I would have definitely headed back to camp!

The hallway had started to fill with other people taking refuge from the rain. I saw my friend (and fellow camper) Lisa  standing in the hall as well. It seemed like we stood there for a long time, but the reality was that it was probably only about 10 minutes.

On the track, the race had been red-flagged.

We heard the jet dryers go out, and surmised this would probably stop soon.

But wait. This is Daytona.

And so, the rain increased. Most of the people who were seated outside began to filter in. The narrow walkway in which we stood grew packed, and we were all elbow-to-elbow as people squeezed through. Jimmy came in as well as Lisa’s husband Tucker. Shortly thereafter, the skies opened.

Photo by @frankfff

Photo by @frankfff

The picture above was taking in a different tower, but this is exactly how it looked when we were there. We were standing up against the rail in the inside hallway.

At 2:34 p.m, I found a text from my friend Peggy; she and her husband John had already headed back to camp, and were in our trailer with our dogs. I remember thinking that’s exactly where I wished I was at that moment.

Water began pouring in between the bottom of the bleachers and on top of us.

“Let’s go downstairs!” Jimmy yelled over the noise of the rain and crowd of people, and the four of us made our way through the crowded narrow walkway downstairs to the front portion of the grandstand which faced the street.

Photo by @The_Dave_Cave

Photo by @The_Dave_Cave

Although this picture was taken in a different tower, it looked exactly like this where we were: large crowds of people moving in all directions. I wanted to grab a shot as we were going downstairs, but there was a whole crowd of people behind me. I didn’t think it was wise to hold up a long train of scurrying people!

(When you’re a blogger, life itself becomes almost like a documentary.)

At this point, we were only damp. (Well, I was slightly more than damp; my jacket which had kept my husband completely dry was soaked, and I got wetter as I wrestled it on.)

Once we got to street level, we stood watching crowds of people go by. I took a selfie of the four of us as we stood there. Wait. There was four of us. Is that a groupie? 😉

The selfie

The selfie.

My poor husband. He smiles for like, a nano-second, then loses patience over how long it takes the shutter to snap and starts talking. Unless I sneak up on him or he’s not looking at the camera, he’s talking. Every.single.time.

A track or sponsor official happened by (he was someone important because he had a ‘hard card’ – an all access pass which gets you in anywhere at every race) and kindly offered to take a picture. We still have no idea who he was.

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

Photo by The Guy With The Hard Card

We remained there for what seemed like an eternity as it poured. We could hear thunder.

And yes, I’m still wearing my headset. The announcers stopped broadcasting and there was nothing to listen to. In all the excitement, I forgot to take it off.

We saw vehicles go by driving Betty Jane France away from the Speedway (or so my husband said, I didn’t actually see who was in the car.) Other vehicles with dark windows went by. We felt this was a pretty good indicator we were going to have some free time on our hands.

At 2:57 p.m., I received the first of two texts from the Speedway advising us to evacuate the grandstands, take cover, and secure campsites.

Although we could barely hear the announcements over the loudspeaker, announcers were also advising people to evacuate the grandstands and take shelter. It was still pouring, but the radar looked like there was going to be a brief clearing shortly.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I would rather make a break for camp rather than stay here if people start to panic,” Jimmy said matter-of-factly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Never-A-Dull-Moment-in-Daytona Day!

Why Cash is the Best Donation After A Disaster

Kirksville Tornado Debris

Helping with Tornado Cleanup

Without a doubt, our hearts ache for the people of Oklahoma. We wait, almost holding our breath, for additional news and stories of hope and survival. Disasters unify us. They bring all Americans together in support and encouragement like nothing else can. They are a testament to the strength and power of the human spirit. Disasters  bring out the best in most of us, inspiring us to help and bring comfort.My years in emergency management, both responding to and supporting disaster response, helped me gain a whole new perspective on this issue.

Why money is the best way to help following a disaster:

1. Money is easily transported. It doesn’t require fuel, trucks, drivers, travel expenses, warehouses, volunteers or hired labor to load or unload it. I promise you, right now, communities all over America are working to fill trucks with toiletries, bottled water, non-perishables, etc. They will rent or find a donated truck, someone to drive it, incurring fuel and travel expenses to drive all this stuff to a community which already has an overloaded response system.

Incident managers or church disaster leadership will now have to find somewhere amongst all the heavy damage to store all these donations, and recruit volunteers or hire people to parcel it out. This means that volunteers will have to be pulled from other, more critical functions (like helping in shelters, feeding and providing comfort to victims, or from cleaning up the community) to manage STUFF. Most likely they will receive enough deodorant, toothbrushes and razors to last for years! Systems are already in place to take care of these kinds of supplies. I promise you, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross are all over this, and have been for years.

2. Victims can purchase what they need. Every family is different, and every family’s needs are different. Within the Red Cross, all monies donated to a particular disaster are used just for that disaster. (I can’t speak for the system in place for the Salvation Army, I don’t have the experience with them.) Based on need, families are provided with essentially a loaded credit card that they can use to purchase the supplies they need. Isn’t it sort of judgmental of us to think, “I want to help you, but I don’t want to give you money because I don’t know how you’ll spend it. I want to give you things you’ll need.” But really, is it? So WHAT if a family uses their card to buy their 9-year old an Xbox? They just lost everything! Does it really matter, in the large scheme of things?

Or maybe you feel that giving money seems impersonal, because it wasn’t something you chose yourself. It didn’t require any effort. If it happened to you, wouldn’t it give you warm fuzzies that people cared enough that they gave unselfishly so you could purchase what your family needed?

3. Money is good  for the local economy. People who receive assistance use it to buy supplies in their local community. This helps stimulate their economy, which brings businesses back. I heard a statistic on the radio that says over 40% of small businesses don’t reopen after a disaster. So spending money locally is a really, really, really good thing.

4. People in shelters will have medical needs, or other special care needs. And don’t forget about the pets! After Katrina, most disaster response organizations are now partnering with other organizations or planning for people’s pets. Money will help provide care for the victims on this level. These organizations do a GREAT job of looking after these folks!

This community will be recovering for years after this disaster. People’s needs will be ongoing, and rescue organizations will be on the ground helping. So please, make your donation count, and give the gift that’s truly going to help them: money. 🙂



Do They Come In Other Colors?

big black dogsA dear friend said to me once: “You know, they DO come in other colors. I can take you to the library and show you a book with all the pretty colors!” And she was serious. Well, mostly.

No, we aren’t talking about clothes, or furniture, or sofa pillows. We’re talking about dogs. The big, slobbery, hairy kind, where in the course of a year, you ingest enough hair to have knitted a sweater.

The Concrete Man (that’s my husband, Jim) and I have a soft spot for BBD’s: Big Black Dogs. Therefore, we have three.

In rescues and shelters, black dogs are always the slowest to be adopted. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t photograph well, or people think they are intimidating, or black just simply isn’t as interesting as one with a lot of colors.

Yes, we are the proud owners of dogs that literally no one else wanted. And, we love it. So much so that when we finished our basement and put a family room and a bar in there, we called it The Black Dog Saloon.

But that’s another story for another time. 🙂

Welcome to my new blog!

Welcome to my blog!!!! If you enjoy funny stories you can relate to,  great decor and project ideas, and timesaving and organizing tips, I think you’ll enjoy my new blog.

My mission is to bring a little Sunshine into your life and brighten your day. Sometimes, we all take ourselves and life way too seriously. Lighten up, live and laugh a little!  Life is too short to be so hard on yourself. If you need a little pick-me-up or you need some topics for cocktail party small talk, stop by and visit The Sunshine Express.  I’m just happy to be here! 🙂