Another Day…Just Breathe.

October is Healthy Lungs Month. Today, October 28, is Lung Health Day. I never gave these much thought, until this year.

Last April, I lost my Dad to a combination of many things, but the main ones being COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and ultimately, lung cancer. My Dad was a smoker for almost 50 years.

I love my Dad, and I miss him everyday, but he did not take care of himself, no matter how many times we asked him to. Sometimes, with enough urging (and some yelling) he would try to do better. But he always seemed to eventually go back to his old ways. “I’ll do what I want” seemed to be his mantra. You don’t get the nickname “Wild Bill” for nothing.

Me and Wild Bill, cowboy hat and all.

Me and Wild Bill, cowboy hat and all.

My Dad was stubborn (just like his daughter) and he lived his life the way he chose to and by his own rules. In many ways, I admired that quality in him, and hope that I, too, can live my life they way I see fit, and not how anyone else tells me I should. There were some times though that I just wish he would have taken the advice of others, mainly regarding his health.

There are two major things my Dad taught me (in addition to learning how to drive): always be yourself no matter what or who says otherwise, and to take care of your body. Sadly, I had to learn the second one by watching him do the exact opposite and slowly suffering over time. Sometimes I think I didn’t try hard enough to get him to do better. Sometimes I think he must not have cared enough about me to do better. Sometimes I realize that there was nothing I could do and he did the best he could. And it had nothing to do with me.

As I mentioned, I have worked hard to take care of myself. I never smoked (ok, I did once in my best friend’s backyard in high school but that was it, I swear). I hardly drink. I watch what I eat (to a fault sometimes). I work out in some way every day and have for the past 17 years. I’ve run 6 half marathons and countless other races. I do yoga. I think about my life and how precious it is. I try not to waste a single second (I don’t always succeed, but I am forever trying). In a way, I have my Dad to thank for this. It’s not the happiest motivator – but I do believe he was very proud of me, and hopefully he knew how much that meant to me.

Thanks, Dad.

Thanks, Dad.

Although my Dad was too stubborn to accept any help, I’d like to think that there are many others out there who can still be helped, and that maybe, just maybe, I could help them. Not only do I have a passion for treating myself right, but I’m even more passionate about helping others to live better. So for National Lung Month, I’d like to tell everyone to get out there, get moving, and keep breathing. Check out some online resources (and there are many), like Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, to learn more about lesser known dangers to lungs like asbestos which is known to cause a rare cancer called mesothelioma, and most importantly, spread the word. We can all live better, if we work together.

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Be excellent to each other.

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Dreams, They Complicate My Life.

I have been remembering my dreams since I was a little girl. I always thought they meant something more, even back then. Even today, I still not only remember the dreams I had last night, but I can still remember some of the very vivid ones I had growing up. A few times throughout my life, I even started a dream journal, and every so often when I’m in de-cluttering mode, I’ll stumble across an old journal and open it only to discover a handful of dreams from the summer of 1997, or some other isolated period.

I wish I had done more dream journalling. I love reading these little snippets of my past, because not only does writing down your dreams help you remember them, but it gives me so much insight into the person I was at that time, and how it has contributed to the person I am today.

Growing up, I often dreamed of storms – hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, tsunamis…and I was always running from them. Because of these dreams, I’ve developed an unhealthy fear of storms. I’m like the dog that hides in the tub at the first rumble of thunder. When Hurricane Sandy was coming, I pored obsessively over the projected path, and prayed and begged just before each time I looked at it that it would change and veer off out to sea. No such luck.

my worst nightmare.

my worst nightmare.

My Astraphobia is a post in itself, so I’ll save that for another time. Right now, I’m talking about dreams. I really do believe there is more to dreams than just “those things that happen when you close your eyes.” These things mean something. Whether it’s yourself telling  yourself what you already know but are afraid to admit, or the universe giving you a gentle reminder of who you are and where you’re going.

Personally, I think it’s a little of both.

A few years ago, I had a dream that I went to this party in someone’s attic. There was music playing – it was the song Then He Kissed Me, by the Crystals. In waking life, I had no connection to this song, whatsoever. But it played, in the background, in it’s entirety, which meant that in waking life I actually knew every note of every musical instrument of the actual song itself. That’s pretty crazy if you think about it. The brain is really a wonderfully amazing thing. Anyway, I was one of the first people at this party in the attic – I think I was helping set up. There was a green velvet couch against one wall. I was over by the couch as guests starting arriving. One guest was my now husband. At that time in waking life, he was they guy I went out with four times and wondered why we weren’t actually together. But here he was, in my dream, at this random attic party where they were playing Then He Kissed Me. We walked toward each other, and he looked at me and said, “I really want us to be together. It’s just not the right time yet.” And then, I woke up. I didn’t just wake up, I shot up. I remember sitting up in bed, and thinking, “what the funk was that??”

In the years that followed, I’d hear that song, and it would remind me of that dream, and the guy. As I mentioned in my previous post, the guy and I are now married. Guess what song played at our wedding for our first kiss?

and then he kissed me. (photo by The More We See)

and then he kissed me. (photo by The More We See)

Was it always going to be that way and that was why I dreamed about that song? Or was the dream of the song the reason it happened? The world may never know. But either way, the dream was important. It gave me hope. It reminded me of what I really wanted, deep inside myself.

I also often dream about people who have died, like so many other people do. In my dreams, the dead are usually intermingled with the living, however there is one thing that separates them – they do not speak. Not once has a dead person ever uttered a word in any of my dreams. Since my dad died a few months ago, I’ve had plenty of dreams about him. Yet not one single word. Weird, right?

i still miss him.

i still miss him.

I love dreams. I love dreaming. I’ve flown many times. I’ve controlled them many other times. I’ve talked with people I haven’t seen in years. I once dreamed I was chatting with my brother, and I asked him what the lyrics were to a certain song, and he said, “I don’t know, I’m just a character in your dream. If you don’t know the lyrics, then how am I supposed to know?”

Oh, Brother. (Photo by The More We See)

Oh, Brother. (Photo by The More We See)

Anyway, the reason I’m thinking about all this on this fine Sunday morning is that my husband is watching soccer in the other room so I have to find something else to do keep myself occupied, and more importantly, I had a very strange dream last night that I can’t stop thinking about. In waking life, sometime around 2005, I played in a band called 4 Hours Sleep. We had fun, and played a whole bunch of shows around Philly. We recorded an album of songs, and although the band wasn’t together for much longer after we were finished with the album, the songs really stood out to me, mainly because this was a pretty emotionally tumultuous time in my life, and the lyrics to those song still either make me smile, tear up, and just remind me what it means to grow up. In the dream, it was the present day, and I was at my mom’s house, and there was some kind of party going on. I was hanging out in my old bedroom, and I suddenly thought of that 4 Hours Sleep album, and began rooting through boxes of old stuff to try and find it. I eventually found it, and tried to play it on the TV (clearly this is the dream part) but I couldn’t get it to play, no matter how hard I tried. Then a bird flew into the room, I got scared and ran to my mom to help me get it out. Then I woke up.

I have no idea what that means, but this morning, I was on a mission to find that old 4 Hours Sleep CD. I had a vague idea of where it was, and lo and behold, I found it, and am listening to it as I type. It brings back wonderful and painful memories. And it also has on it my favorite song that I’ve ever written, that I had forgotten about.

I just made this youtube video and it took me like an hour. Can you believe this is the first time I’ve ever posted a video to youtube? Maybe that was the reason for the dream – to teach me how to do something new. 🙂

When Life Happens.

I haven’t posted anything in a while.

I’m not upset about that – I haven’t really felt like writing. Maybe it’s because things have been a little crazy. Some major events happened over the past few months:

1. I got married.

2. I went to Prague.

3. My father died.

#3 actually happened first. My father died almost exactly one month before my wedding. Being so sad and so happy at the same time is quite a challenge. And mentally exhausting. This was on top of the stress of planning a wedding in it’s final stages. I really just didn’t have time to write. At least,that was my excuse.

my dad and me, enjoying a moment.

my dad and me, enjoying a moment.

The truth is, I’ve loved to write since I was about 9 years old, when after a class assignment to write a short story about a polar bear, I discovered not only did I enjoy doing it, but I was pretty good at it, too! Every week, I looked forward to Fridays, when we got the chance to write another story. Writing was my passion. Through the years, my focus on it has ebbed and flowed – but I always come back to it. I admit I have many passions; but writing is and always will be the one ring to rule them all.

So why did I stop? Having no time was definitely a contributing factor – but not because I actually had no time for it – I just wasn’t making time for it and I believe that was intentional. When life gets too heavy, I push writing away out of fear. Writing for me, is about truth – about sharing a part of you that no one sees. Sometimes, when life becomes “too much,” I don’t really want anyone to see that.

Another big reason I stopped blogging in particular was because I had stopped baking – I really didn’t have time for that, what with  wedding crafts, family visits, vendor meetings, etc. So no baking = no blogging. That thought depressed me. Why should I have to stop writing just because I had stopped baking? Well, duh, I don’t. There are no rules in writing! That’s the beauty of the craft! So, I stripped away the limitations, and redid the blog. It’s still called Small Indulgences. It will still have recipes and baking adventures. But that’s only part of the fun. Living a life full of Small Indulgences – that’s what I want to do, and that’s what I want to write about. Having coffee with an old friend – that’s a Small Indulgence. Taking a Stand Up Paddle Boarding class with my husband (I still smile when I get to call him that) – that’s a Small Indulgence. Scratching my cat Gandalf the Gray behind the ears until he starts purring – that’s a Small Indulgence. Heck, watching the next episode of Game of Thrones is even a Small Indulgence! The little things we enjoy, that make us smile and warm our hearts – these are the things that matter. These are what life is all about. These are things worth sharing. And hence forth, they will be shared.

It’s not the size that counts; its how you live it.

So let’s get out there and live. 🙂

living it up in Prague.

living it up in Prague.