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My First Blog Post

Just Be Brave….

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

CREEK SIDE SITTING, ARTS FESTIVAL AND MUD ON THE TIRES – A MOUNTAIN REFRESH

What do creek side sitting, arts festival and mud on the tires have in common – a mountain refresh is the answer? Our last trip to our cabin in the woods was full of just the right amount of adventure and relaxation.

Creek Side Sitting

Robby and I arrived at our cabin on a Friday right around lunch time. Once we got “Silent Charlie” settled, we headed out to get a bite to eat. One of our favorite stops is Frog Level Brewery.

This microbrewery sits on a creek with plenty of outdoor seating and shade. We placed our food order, got our beverage of choice and headed outside to enjoy the calming sounds of the creek.

After a 4 hour drive, there is no better way to relax. The food was good, the conversation relaxed and the view spectacular. While we could have sat there for hours, groceries needed to be purchased, so off the the Ingles Market we went!

Mountain Refresh - Creek side sitting
Our classic selfie pose at Frog Level

Arts Festival

On Saturday, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Maggie Valley was having an arts and crafts festival. This became a “must do” for the day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with cool temps and low humidity. My hair was loving it!!

We parked and embarked on the “hunt” to find something unique and there were plenty of opportunities to unload some cash.

I purchased a couple of gifts for my daughters and Robby bought a gorgeous handmake knife. The craftsmanship was beautiful. In addition, we purchased some unique chairs for our cabin deck. Can’t wait until they arrive!

All that shopping made us hungry! LOL Fortunately, one of our favorite taverns is just up the road, so a light lunch, beverages and a little football watching completed the afternoon.

Arts Festival in Maggie Valley
Look at that view in the background!

Mud On The Tires

The plan for Sunday was a trip to the Wayehutta OHV Trail in Sylva, NC. This park is for dirt bikes, four wheelers and UTV vehicles and located approximately 40 minutes from our cabin.

The park has about 50 miles of trails that run deep into the woods with all kinds of obstacles and skill challenges. We loaded up our RZR and headed to Sylva.

Let me just emphasize that when I say we were deep in the woods, we were really deep in the woods. No cell phone service but there is a bathroom. It’s a modern day outhouse, but better than “going in the woods”!

Robby did all the driving and I simply enjoyed the ride. It was kind of like being on a roller coaster. Fortunately, there weren’t too many areas of standing water, so Robby didn’t get me soaked.

After about 2 hours of riding we were tired and called it a day. The RZR was muddy, our jeans were dirty but our faces were filled with smiles. It was soooo much fun!

Deep in the Woods
Mud on the tires
All Done!

Final Thoughts

We topped off our mountain refresh with more football watching and grilled burgers. Our bodies were tired and a little sore, but we made the most of this cabin trip.

I love that the mountains allow me to break my normal routine. The change of scenery and perspective restore my soul. And this is why I call it a mountain refresh!

Walking "Silent Charlie"
Lunch with a view

The mountains are calling and I am always ready to go!

THE POWER OF REST FOR WOMEN OVER 50

It’s only been recently that I have realized the power of rest for women over 50. Did you know that rest is a key ingredient to success, health and happiness? Well, I want all of these things and am willing to embrace a new rhythm to get there.

Let’s Define Rest

In the Oxford Dictionary rest is defined as follows:

  • Rest (verb) – to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh or recover strength.
  • Rest (noun) – an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.

We live in a world that is full of hustle and bustle with constant connection to our phones. This can take a toll on your body and mind especially as you age.

Relaxation simply won’t happen on its own. We must set aside time to do things we enjoy and spend time with the people we love. Rest may look different in each person. Some might choose to sit and read, while others may take a walk outside to relax. My personal preference is a good nap!

the power of rest - woman and dog napping
Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

What The Experts Say

According to a lovely article in Forbes.com, our bodies were designed to work best in intervals. Allowing yourself to take breaks, even short ones, promotes health and allows you to continue working throughout the day.

Stress

We all know that stress is bad! It also impacts our need for rest. High stress levels create the fight or flight response and can be hard on the immune system. Resting allows the body to return to a more calm state.

Creativity

The power of rest benefits us with increased creativity. Resting naturally makes you more creative. Taking time to relax refills you and makes room for reflection and inspiration to be birthed.

Every day I play word games to keep my brain sharp. When I have trouble with a puzzle, I walk away and take a break. When I come back, I am always able to solve it. Taking a minute to change my focus, breathe and relax makes all the difference.

Productivity and Decision Making

Let’s just call it what it is … you simply do not function at your best when you are tired. This means you are not as productive and your decisions might be a little shaky!

Planning important tasks after a period of rest is a great way to stay productive. And, we all know that the phrase “let me sleep on it”, is the best answer when making significant decisions.

It’s amazing how different things look after a good night’s sleep. A fresh perspective will give you the confidence to make good and sound decisions in business and personally. This is truly the power of rest in action.

Ways To Practice Rest

Okay, not everyone can just take a nap in the middle of the day. However, there are ways to incorporate healthy rest habits into your schedule. Here are some things you can do immediately:

  • Make appointments to rest in your schedule. During that time, practice gratitude. These positive thoughts will help your perspective.
  • Practice deep breathing. I love this one because you can do it anywhere. I have a health app the prompts deep breathing exercises. Not only will this help you relax, but it exercises and strengthens your lung capacity.
  • Get enough sleep. Having a regular bedtime and a routine will help you get the restful sleep your body needs to recover.

Final Thoughts

I admit that I do love a good nap and for me, that is what my body needs. Because I get up early to exercise on weekdays, by 1:00p.m., I am in need of some rest.

My body may not be running at the same pace as ten years ago, but I have found the rhythm that works for me. I still do all the things I love, including regular exercise, managing the house and social involvement, it’s just done at a different pace.

Silent Charlie loves our routine the best! I simply say “okay boy, let’s go “rest and reset!” and he happily joins me on the couch, our favorite napping spot.

Embrace the power of rest and listen to your body. Taking the time to take care of yourself will help you remain your “Best Self”!

BATTLING THE FLUFF – FACTS ABOUT MENOPAUSE BELLY

Battling the fluff and facts about menopause belly have completely caught me off guard. The “over 50 fluff” has become a real challenge. One that I was not prepared for.

While I am a self professed “knowledge junkie”, this menopause topic has eluded my interest, until now. Over the past two years I have slowly been putting on weight even though nothing has changed in my diet or routine.

It seems that I can just look at a cupcake and gain weight. In addition, it has been very difficult to get this extra fluff off!!! As someone who is petite and has always been underweight, this is new territory for me.

pic of menopause belly
Photo by Laura Tancredi on Pexels.com

What Is Menopause Belly?

In an article by Healthline.com, menopause belly is defined as the extra weight gained around the midsection during menopause.

Well, that’s just wonderful. Basically, this means that just because my body’s hormones are changing that I am going to get “fluffy” in the middle! This is not exciting news to say the least. However, I am glad to know what is happening to my midsection.

Thanks Hormones!

Menopause belly is the result of many changes taking place in the body. The reduction of estrogen and other hormones can cause an imbalance which can cause weight gain. Bloating of both water and gas may also create added weight to the midsection.

Let’s be honest, there is nothing sexy about this life change! If that wasn’t bad enough, your body can also shift mass from other areas to the midsection. WOW! I certainly wish I could rearrange my “mass” where I want it to go! LOL

This leaves women with a trifecta of potential issues to assess. The good news is that the typical weight gain is 4.5 pounds according to the “experts”. Not sure the “experts” have seen my scale!

What Can You Do?

It is possible to lose this menopause belly weight. The bad news is that it is likely going to be more difficult than before menopause. Here are some lifestyle changes that can help reduce or at least maintain the weight.

  • Diet – There is a link between menopause weight gain and high fat, sugar and salt consumption. Choosing high fiber foods and antioxidants are best. Nuts, berries and even dark chocolate are good choices. You may also want to consider eating foods rich in iron and calcium and reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol. (Not sure I can give up my morning coffee or the Chardonnay!) Oh yeah, drink lots of water to cleanse your body.
  • Exercise – It goes without saying that exercise is a must. You don’t need high intensity workouts, but you must move your body. Walking, yoga and other low impact exercises are a great way to maintain flexibility, increase muscles and burn calories. If you already exercise regularly, you may want to consider increasing the length or frequency of your workouts. The key is to crank up your metabolism and burn calories.
  • Stress – Yes, stress can impact your weight gain during menopause. Not only can stress tempt you to over eat, it can keep your hormones from finding their balance. To de-stress, do things you enjoy, allow yourself time to rest, and embrace all of the the new you.

While your body may have changed, it is important to focus on living a healthy lifestyle, rather than the pursuit of a perfect body.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge is power. There are literally hundreds of articles filled with information about menopause and the menopause belly. Be informed!

Everyone is different. Your genetics do play a role in how menopause will affect your body. Don’t compare yourself to others!

Whether the weight comes off or not, choosing a healthy lifestyle will absolutely benefit you for years to come.

And finally, change should be expected. Eating differently and less, exercising more and reducing stress are the key ingredients in the battle against the “fluff”. I haven’t reached my goal of losing 5 pounds yet, but I’m staying in the fight and learning to embrace this new season!

Here’s to healthy living and not giving up!

THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF BEING A GRANDPARENT

The important role of being a grandparent to two beautiful granddaughters is one of my greatest joys. Just like parenting, the role doesn’t come with instructions. You often find yourself uncertain of the expectations of others and of yourself!

Every family has its own rhythm and your role as a grandparent will depend on the needs and proximity of your family.

Whether you live close to your grandchildren or far away, you can find a way to fulfill the very important role of being a grandparent.

Role of grandparents.  Pic of grandchildren walking dog
Helping Mimi walk Charlie

Relationship Benefits

Investing in creating a strong bond with your grandchildren provides lasting positive effects for you both.

Your grandchildren will receive your love, support and acceptance. This helps to establish emotional well-being in them. You become an extra layer of security and safety in their lives.

Grandchildren help you by restoring youth, vitality and purpose in your life. In the over 50 seasons of our life, it is easy to lose momentum and purpose. Being an involved grandparent can stimulate that spark again. We all thrive when we are needed.

Roles

There are many roles that a grandparent can play in the lives of their grandchildren. Every family will have different needs and every grandparent will have different abilities. Here is a list of the most common roles of a grandparent:

  • Family Storyteller: you hold the key to the family history. Share it!
  • Nurturer: be are a safe harbor and listening ear
  • Mentor/Role Model: guide and encourage character and integrity building
  • Playmate: have fun with them
  • Teacher: share what you know and have learned from your life experience
  • Caregiver: babysit or be the extra help that is needed. This is always time well spent.

You may not be all of these things at once. However, over time you will discover your natural bend and connection as a grandparent. Step into the needed role and be flexible. Family rhythms change and your role will need to evolve as well.

The key is to always stay in relationship. There is a detailed article by Kathy Simpson in http://www.extramile.hartford.com about grandparent roles you may be interested in. Here is the article link.

Expectations and Boundaries

It is very important to maintain open and clear communication with the parents about yours and their expectations about your role.

Remember and respect that the parents are in charge of raising their children. Following their requests and limiting unsolicited advice will go a long way toward avoiding family conflict.

Think about the end goal which is time spent with and developing relationship with your grandchildren. Simply enjoy them.

In addition, be clear about how much you want to do. Developing relationship with your grandchildren shouldn’t come at the expense of your own interests and commitments.

Importance of Your Presence

Never underestimate the importance of just being available for your grandchildren. A listening ear and likely a more objective perspective is vital to helping them know that they have your support to face challenges.

You may also be able to help with financial needs. Going shopping with your grandchildren is a real treat. I love little lunch dates or movie nights with my granddaughters. A frozen pizza and a kid’s movie is all it takes to create a memorable evening.

Playing at Mimi’s

Final Thoughts

The role of being a grandparent is one I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to pursue relationship with them. I want to have a positive impact on their lives and leave a legacy of wisdom and knowledge that will help them.

My hope is to build a strong foundation where we can both grow and evolve in relationship together.

Most importantly, I want them to always know that Mimi and Popi love them wholeheartedly!

BE HAPPY

Are you enjoying your life? Many people have the mistaken thinking that “I can only be happy when….. .” This kind of happiness is completely driven by circumstances going just the way they want them to.

Circumstances will always be changing. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. But, every day has something to enjoy. Choose to find those moments and embrace happiness. After all, it’s your choice!

LIVING WITH PETS – LIFE WITH “SILENT CHARLIE”

Living with pets is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve chosen in my life. Now that my nest is empty, my fur baby gets all of my attention, like it or not! Since August is his birthday month, I thought I would write a post all about “Silent Charlie”.

How We Got Charlie

Our family has lived in three states with Florence, SC being our last stop so far. In 2010, with a one teenager and one tween, I decided that it was time to get a dog. This was a well thought out decision, because we already had a cat named Dot/mean ‘ol kitty. Let’s just say Dot was not nice.

Knowing how many animals need adoption, I began searching “rescue” facilities for just the right puppy. I hit gold when Homeward Bound in Columbia, SC posted a picture/profile of the cutest Chihuahua/Jack Russell puppy. This was the “one”.

After being approved for his adoption, Robby, Victoria and I traveled to Columbia to meet and bring home our new baby. We all fell in love when we saw him. He had already been named and knew it well, so Charlie left in our arms for his forever home!

Baby Charlie

New Puppy Adjustment

We were so excited to have Charlie in our home. He was so tiny and cute that it was hard not to just smother him in kisses. Our cat, Dot, did not think he was cute at all. In fact Dot tried to kill Charlie several times. Poor Charlie was terrified of him and unfortunately it caused him extreme anxiety.

And so began the real struggle to keep them apart and yet still give both the care they deserved. We all worked with Charlie and taught him to sit, lay down and shake hands. He also succeeded at potty training with pads inside and “going” outside as well.

He loved to run and play and his most favorite thing was to “stalk” one of his toys. It was so funny to watch him use his Jack Russell skills to hunt his prey.

Unfortunately while Charlie thrived, Dot the cat did not. He became very aggressive and attacked and bit me twice. This was a difficult situation. Robby took him to the vet and it was discovered that he was not well and that is why he had become so mean. In fact, he had not been well for some time. The hard decision was made to put him to sleep. Doing what’s best is often the hardest thing to do.

Living with pets is sometimes difficult.

Daily Life With Charlie

Over the next year, Charlie grew and proved to be one of the smartest dogs I had ever seen. He was also super sweet and loved to follow me everywhere. One of his favorite things was to nap with anyone who would share a spot on the couch. Between me and the girls, he could usually find someone to snuggle.

Charlie napping

Charlie became very attached to me since I spent the most time with him. He was my first fur baby! He was very good in the house and only barked when someone came into the driveway or onto the front porch. Let’s just say the UPS guy never needed to ring the doorbell! LOL

The only negative with Charlie was his anxiety. He hated being alone and had tremendous separation anxiety when I left the house. We tried many things, but he just couldn’t overcome his anxiety. This was when I began to consider getting another dog. My thinking was that if Charlie had a companion, then he wouldn’t be so anxious.

Chiclet Enters the Scene

A friend of mine knew I was considering getting another puppy and she had a coworker that was in need of homes for unwanted puppies. The breed was Chihuahua mix of some kind and I agreed to see one of the puppies.

My oldest daughter and I met this woman in a restaurant parking lot and took possession of the smallest little black Chihuahua puppy I had ever seen. It was a female and of course we fell in love. I said yes, and that was that. A new fur baby was coming home.

Charlie wasn’t too sure about this strange little creature. He was even jealous at first. It only took a few days to realize that this tiny tiny little black puppy was a “fireplug”. She was super sweet but full of spunk. This is how she got her name. She reminded me of the gum I loved from my childhood and so I named her Chiclet!

Chiclet was a little more difficult to potty train. She definitely had a mind of her own and if she was mad at you, an “accident” could be expected!! Charlie was 2 years older than Chiclet but they became best friends and only occasionally had kafuffles.

Charlie & Chiclet

Even though Charlie was larger, Chiclet ruled the house. Unlike Charlie, she barked at everything and I do mean everything. Leaves blowing, children riding bikes, people walking by, cars passing, the mail carrier, garbage truck and of course the UPS guy. And, she loved to get Charlie to bark with her. Again, there was no need to ring the doorbell, I always knew when someone was at the house!

As Chiclet got a little older, we were able to identify that she was a Chihuahua/Minnie Pinn. This explained her temperament which was super loving and a “fireplug” all wrapped in a tiny package.

Living with pets was now twice the work, twice the clean up, twice the noise, twice the fun and twice the love.

Things Change

Life the Charlie and Chiclet went smoothly along for 8 years. I am a very disciplined person, so we had our routine for feeding and going outside. Chiclet was a “runner” and could fit through the fence, so I always had to supervise the trips outside. That little dog had everyone wrapped around her paw – even Charlie.

In February of 2021, Chiclet began to have some trouble breathing. I was aware of a heart murmur but it had never caused any problems in the past. Unfortunately, her condition quickly became unmanageable with meds and she was suffering. I once again had to make the most difficult choice and have her put to sleep.

Sweetest Chiclet

I was devastated. Our family was devastated and poor Charlie was alone and confused. We all grieved. Charlie would howl and cry for her. I was his only comfort. Our routine had suddenly changed and now everything was different.

Living with pets can be painful!

A New Season

It took some time for everyone to adjust, especially Charlie. I could tell he was sad but I continued to stick with all the things we used to do before. Slowly Charlie began to enjoy having all the attention.

He began following me everywhere I went in the house and I let him. One of the first things we noticed was how quiet it was in the house. Without Chiclet’s influence, Charlie only barks if someone comes in the driveway or porch. The stark difference in the noise level is how he got his current nickname of “Silent Charlie”.

This little guy follows me all day, listens to me talk to him all day and never makes a peep. Even when he needs to go out or wants something, he just sits and stares at you until you do it!

When Robby would come home and ask about my day, I would fondly respond “Oh me and Silent Charlie just hung out together!” The beauty of this new season is that if Charlie barks, then I definitely need to take a look out the window!

Final Thoughts

Silent Charlie is now 11 years old. His face is a little more grey and he moves a little more slowly. He doesn’t like steps and sometimes I have to carry him. I think he does it just to “boss” me around a little bit.

Charlie is very protective of me and the grandchildren. He can’t stand it when we are in the pool because he needs to make sure everyone in his pack is OK after every jump. Also, he let’s me know when someone is at the house and he almost never has any “accidents”.

He listens to me talk to him all day, every day and never talks back (good thing). Our cabin in the woods gives him all kinds of new things to smell and do. He has been and still remains a great companion.

Me & Charlie at cabin
Cabin Walks
Charlie’s Best Life

Living with pets is still the best decision I ever made. Happy Birthday Silent Charlie!!!