Monday, November 28, 2016

Preparing For Winter On A Budget

I love my house. I stress about paying the mortgage, but I am eternally grateful that despite how horrible my divorce was, my ex-husband agreed the kids needed to stay in their home.

But, my house needs a lot of work. I regularly toy with the idea of selling it and moving out of Tennessee. But I know I won't get full asking price because of the repairs and upgrades it needs.

One of the biggest problems is the old, horrible windows and lack of insulation. In the winter my house is COLD. You can put your hands a good foot away from the windows and door and feel the air coming in.

In the past I have used weather stripping in differing thickness and materials. Last year I used that
plastic stuff that you stick onto the windows with a hair dryer. Both helped, but neither was a solution.

This year after much googling I found a weird but extremely cost effective way to insulate the windows.

Bubble wrap.

Yes, the kind of bubble wrap that you use to pack when you move.

I don't know why, but everything I read said it needs to be the large-size bubbles bubble wrap.

It's a really easy process:

  • Measure the window
  • Cut the bubble wrap to fit
  • Spray the window with plain water
  • Spray the bubble side of the bubble wrap
  • Stick the bubble wrap to the window
For some reason, just simple water is all it takes to attach the bubble wrap. 

I am testing the bubble wrap method on my bedroom windows first since they are the worst in the house. This morning there was just one little corner of bubble wrap that was coming off the window, but I just resprayed it with water and it went right back up.

We had a really bad storm today, lots of rain and 50mph winds. And I'm happy to report....

It is working!

I couldn't feel any wind coming in through the window.

This weekend I'll do the other windows in the back of the house. And if it works well enough I'll put the bubble wrap up in the front windows too. Even though it might look a little odd. 

It's not very pretty, but who cares as long as it works. And I have thick curtains that are supposed to keep out the heat / cold and when those are closed you don't see the bubble wrap anyway.


Monday, November 21, 2016

I Can't Save The World. But I Might Have Saved My Dead Mom Last Night

I was really depressed last night. Like on the verge of tears depressed.

Being out of work because of this broken foot has left me with far too much time on my hands to sit on social media and read all the negativity in the world right now.

Last night I was following the live stream footage of North Dakota law enforcement using water cannons on the unarmed water protectors of Standing Rock. It was below freezing and these peaceful activists protesting the Dakota Access pipeline were getting doused with water and tear gas.

As I was watching the live feed, one of my yoga friends was en route to Standing Rock to support the water protectors in any way she could. She wasn't sure what she could do to help, but she knew she had to do something.

Add to that the shit show of an election we just had, the vitriol being thrown around by both sides of politics, the uncertainty of the next four years, the news that four different police officers in four different cities had been shot in just one day and it all began to overwhelm me. There is so much darkness in the world right now and I feel helpless.

I finally realized I just needed to put my phone down and take a break from it all. There was nothing I could do at that moment.

Except say a prayer and a quiet meditation.

I felt a little better after my meditation and thought maybe I could rest now.

As I finally lay down in bed, with the news of the day turned off, the cat who had been napping suddenly got up and started sneaking up onto a bug she saw on the wall.

Oh yeah, just what I need right now. A spider. Probably a deadly one.

But, no. It was a ladybug. It was 37 degrees outside and there was a ladybug in my room.

My sister always says it's our mom visiting her when she sees a ladybug.

Oh no! The cat was going to eat my mom!

I got a tissue and ever so gently nudged my mom/ladybug onto the tissue. But what should I do with her/it? I can't put her/it outside she will freeze to death. I can't leave her here the cat will eat her.

So I took my mom/the ladybug into the bathroom and gently lay her down on my counter for the night. I even told her "stay in here away from the cat."

Then I returned to my room and told the cat "don't eat mom."

Seriously, I think this is the point I lost a bit more of my sanity.

If you don't know about the Dakota Access Pipeline and why it is being protested, The Guardian, an independent and reliable news source, has this easy-to-read post on what is happening and why. It's important to note that the original pipeline would have run through Bismarck, North Dakota. It was moved south of Bismarck to "protect wells that serve the municipal water supply". In other words, it is an environmental hazard and the citizens of Bismarck successfully fought against it. So the Army Corps of Engineers moved it to federally protected tribal lands.

If you are also following the activities at Standing Rock, here are the important phone numbers you can call and voice your opinion:

North Dakota Governor 701-328-2200

Amnesty International 212-807-8400 (ask them to send representatives to Standing Rock to assess and report on the treatment of the water protectors by our government)

White House Public Comment Line  202-456-1111

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pretty Awesome Gamers

One of my friends is one of those super cool moms that makes Cosplay costumes for her kids and travels with her kids to different gaming and Comic Cons.

This weekend though, she took her super cool status to the next level by getting involved with a charity called Pretty Awesome Gamers.

From their website:

“We create super heroes! We are a Non Profit organization that awards terminally and chronically ill children full expense paid trips to ComicCons and Gaming Conventions. We supply them costumes to turn them into any character they want to be. Artists create special tailored art for the kids. And the parents get a free quality family time with their kids.”

You can read more about her experience volunteering at Cosplay conventions over on her blog Rayn Of Chaos. 

Thankfully my children have always been healthy, and I've never been a gamer myself. But two of my boys are very into gaming and have asked repeatedly about going to a Comic Con.  I think we will be finding a way to get involved with Pretty Awesome Gamers ourselves. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank You Madame Secretary

As protests happen around the country tonight, some with small pockets of violence erupting, I instead sat in my local Starbucks, ear buds in, and participated on a call with Hillary Rodham Clinton thanking me and her many supporters.

She spoke with dignity and class.

In her words:

It's been a rough few days. Take some time for yourself now. Walk your dogs. Breathe.
I hope when you are ready you will regroup and continue the cause. Because the causes that brought you all together are just as important now as ever.

She reminded us that we are on our way to winning the popular vote, and that "speaks volumes".

But still, it's been an unsettling few days for me. I live in an area where I am the democratic minority. I have very few local friends to talk to about the election.

My Facebook feed is filled with gloating, examples of hate crimes across the country and all kinds of divisive behavior. I've tried to take a social media break from a lot of it.

I know these next few months, and the next four years, are uncertain. I take solace in knowing that I voted my conscience. And I now have a new and better understanding of the need to be an informed voter and to vote in not just the big election, but in the midterm elections as well.

I think this experience has awakened a desire in me to become more politically active in the future.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Only Prayer We Need Today

I'm still home with this broken foot. Which gives me way too much free time to watch election coverage news today.

Earlier this week I helped out in a call bank for the election. It's not much. But every little bit of effort counts. Or so I told myself.

As I was doing my regular morning meditation / gentle off-the-foot yoga practice today I felt I needed to meditate on the Buddhas Lovingkindness Meditation. As I recited it, I realized this is what the country needs to be meditating on today.

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be free
May I live with ease

A Lovingkindness Meditation, also called Metta meditation, is simply a practice of directing well wishes toward other people.

Doesn't that sound like a nice break from the nasty political talk these past few months? And a far better use of our time than fighting amongst our neighbors?

To practice Lovingkindness Meditation, find a comfortable seated position. Don't worry about looking like those pictures of people meditating on mountain tops. You can keep your eyes open and recite this to yourself anywhere. 

Intention is what counts. 

First, repeat the blessing three times for yourself to yourself. See yourself as healthy and well.

Then, repeat the blessing three times for someone who has helped you or brought joy to your life. 

Third, repeat the blessing three times for someone you know that is struggling or in need of healing. See that person as healthy and well.  

Finally, repeat the blessing three times visualizing your community, your country and your world. 

As I repeated the blessing the final time, I saw all the people standing in line waiting to vote. Here in my area people are standing outside in the rain waiting to cast their vote. I didn't say the blessing to encourage them to vote my way or even visualize them voting in a specific way. I just said the blessing to surround everyone today in a sense of peace and wellness. 

Again, it's a small effort. But every little bit of effort counts. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

I turned my Frustration into Action this Election year & You can Still do the Same

To see what began my short career as a political operative, please read the post on Elephant Journal.

At my assigned time I logged in to my previously set up online account. My first call was Susan, a 39-year-old woman in Iowa.

But the call went straight to voice mail.

As did the next 12 calls I made.

Maybe I’m not meant to be a political operative.

But then, call number 14 was to Ophelia, a 72-year-old woman in Virginia. Dear sweet Ophelia. Not only did she answer the phone, but also she was excited to tell me she was supporting Hillary Clinton.

In fact, she told me not only was she voting for Clinton, she was driving all her lady friends to the polls so they could vote for the first woman president too!

Of the more than 100 calls I made, only one caller was rude. No problem, I simply followed the script and politely thanked her for her time and ended the call.

I also spoke with:

• Diane: a 47-year-old woman who wasn’t sure where her polling place was. I was able to give her the exact address of her assigned polling area

• Rachelle: 27 years old who didn’t know the polls opened as early as 6am. She has plans to go cast her vote before her shift at works starts

• Eileen: 34 years old, who although I interrupted her dinner, thanked me for working for the cause and dedicating my time to making calls

To see how my time in politics ended,  please read the post over on Elephant Journal.

Friday, November 4, 2016

How To Do Yoga With A Broken Foot

Once you have a regular yoga practice, you won't want anything to get in the way and stop you from the yoga. But, life happens.

I've managed to yoga through all kinds of illnesses and injuries. Usually it's just a matter of slowing down, modifying and letting go of unrealistic expectations.

And, that includes yoga with a broken foot.

It's been 9 long weeks and I am still in this boot cast. I'm allowed to take it off to sleep and shower. About a month ago I thought I was OK enough to take it off and do some gentle yoga during a workshop I was attending.

It didn't go well at first.  To summarize, this is what happens when you stand on your mat in Tadasana and try to balance evenly on both feet:

Oh, sweet baby Jesus, mother **%*, damn that hurts! And all I did was try to spread my toes.

It doesn't sound very yoga-like does it? So you sit back down on your yoga mat to figure something else out.

These past few weeks my yoga practice has been much heavier on meditation rather than asana. And I've really enjoyed it. I'm usually in too much of a rush to meditate (hence the reason I really need more meditation in my life), but this broken foot has slowed me down and forced me onto my meditation cushion.

I have really, really enjoyed it. Sometimes I listen to a guided meditation. Often I practice some Kundalini breathing and mantras. 

As for the asana practice,  is all seated or lying down now. 
  • Janu Sirsasana - Head to Knee Forward bend to stretch the hamstrings and SI Joint relief
  • Baddha Konasana - Bound angle pose to open the hips
  • Ananda Balasana - Happy Baby and other supine hip openers
  • Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana - Cat/ Cow for flexion and extension of the spine
  • Sucirandhrasana - Thread the Needle to relieve neck and shoulder stress
  • Balasana - Child's pose
  • Matsyasana - Modified fish pose to open the chest

At first even child's pose was out of the question. The fracture and soft tissue damage is primarily around the second and third metatarsals, so resting back with the tops of my feet down hurt too much. When I was at the yoga workshop I grabbed a yoga block and placed that under the top of my ankle to prop up the broken foot. It was enough support that it didn't cause any pain.

But having just one foot up on a block was throwing my hips out of balance. Well more out of balance than they already were from walking in this damn boot cast for nine weeks!

At home I prop both feet up on my bolster when I'm in child's pose. I can stay here to stretch out my back or flow some modified kneeling vinyasa.

This is the closest picture I could find to
propping the tops of your feet to support
a foot injury.
Hopefully soon I will be out of the cast and back into my normal hurried routine. But, as with most negative things  in life, this broken foot has been a good lesson for me. It has reminded me to slow down and listen to what my body is telling me it needs.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Kindle Version Has Arrived

Woo Hoo!

The Kindle version of Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom is finally here!

If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can read the book for FREE!

(Kindle Unlimited pays authors for the number of pages read in a Kindle Unlimited book. So please, actually read the book - or at least flip the pages -  if you download it for free!)

If you are one of the many readers I am forever grateful to who bought the paperback version, you can download the Kindle version for only $1.99. Why would you want the Kindle version if you already have the paperback version you ask? Well, because the Kindle version is new and improved! A few corrections and updated info have been added.

I don't know if all the fabulous reviews so many of you have posted on the paperback edition will transfer to the Kindle edition as well. But, as always, I am so appreciative of everyone who takes the time to review the book on both Amazon and .

It's been a year since Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom was released. Having it out on Kindle now is just as exciting!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Favorite Aspect Of Being A Writer

October 5 IWSG Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

My favorite aspect of being a writer... is feeling like a writer.

There are two times in my life where I really feel comfortable in my own skin. Two times that I feel like I'm fulfilling my dharma: teaching yoga and writing.

Most of my writing is done propped up on my bed late at night after work, after chores are done and after kids are in bed. I feel like a want-to-be writer then. Because, you know, "real" writers have cute little writing cottages on the beach where they can take breaks and walk the sand to find their latest best selling idea. And they don't have to work real jobs to pay the bills because their mail box is full of royalty checks.

These past few years I've been fortunate to travel to the West Coast a few times. They were much-needed mini vacations to reconnect with old friends, practice yoga in chic little studios and of course, to write.

Sitting in a Starbucks in Seattle - feel like a writer.
Walking the rocky Northwest beaches thinking of ideas - feel like a writer
Sitting in an airport with my laptop open - feel like a writer
Jotting down notes while waiting to meet my friend for the afternoon - feel like a writer

It's not just when I'm away that I feel like a writer. Right now I'm sitting in my local Starbucks waiting on my girls to be finished dance class. I've gotten into a good habit these past couple months of day job, home to kids, drop girls at dance, go to Starbucks and write, pick up girls and continue with mom chores for the evening.

I like my cherished moments here. In fact I try and pick the far back corner booth so I can hide in case people I know stop in. I don't want forced socialization to hinder my writing!

I suppose the theme here is my favorite aspect of being a writer... is sitting down and actually writing.

This post is a part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly meeting of writers who over think, under write and just want people to like them.