Over a month ago, I spent some time at a great retreat in Austin Texas.  Along with teaching me that (basically) I don’t eat the way I should at all, the retreat also focused on mental and spiritual health.  And I found those sessions and that information so incredibly enriching.

To save this blog from being REALLY long, let me just say that OHI really focused on the power of gratitude.  And having just completed a seven day gratitude ‘challenge’ on Facebook prior to arriving, I was completely on that bandwagon.  Thinking about the things we are grateful for on a daily basis — and articulating those things –is incredibly uplifting and powerful.

So in honor of the things I enumerated on Facebook back in September — here’s a re-posting.  Wishing everyone a beautiful Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.

Sept 20, 2014

Nominated by my wonderful friend Angie — — thank you for thinking of me!  Three things I am grateful for today (and then the following six!)

1 — Most obviously I am grateful for my husband.  He got more than he  bargained for when he married me but his is my strength, my laughter and my best friend.

2 — I am grateful for my Lucy.  To have an animal look at you with the love that fills her big brown eyes — takes your breath away.  It is truly a gift….

3-  I am grateful for my family.  The last two years of MS and cancer (not both me!) have shown the true strength and integrity of my parents, my wonderful second mother (my mum’s twin) and my insanely amazing brother.

When you’ve had the journey I’ve had recently — you definitely see with crystal clarity the things for which you are grateful.  Thanks for the nom Ange!

September 21, 2014

1 — I am grateful for ceiling fans.  They just make everything better — especially sleep!

2 — I am grateful for football.  I just love it, and I’m not going to use this as a place for anything other than positive stuff right now. (Editorial note: Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson were dominating NFL news at the time).  I have been so lucky to have so many great memories throughout my life that have to do with football — PSU, Steelers, PR Rams & Fedko, Womissing Saturday day games & away games on Friday nights — the Flemington Falcons — football has always been a big part of my life.  And Sunday is the best day for a shout out.

3– I am grateful for Starbucks.  And on that subject, I am grateful for Ted — for introducing me to the soy chai latte in college — it has been my drink for over 10 years & I love it.  I am grateful to all my baristas who know me, my hubs, my drinks and my football teams.  They always brighten my day.  I love Starbucks.

September 22, 2014

Day Tre —

I am grateful for —

1 — All the failed relationships and friendships I have had to this point in my life.  Those failures taught me about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and the kinds of people I know to be true friends and in the case of my husband, my partner.

2 — On that subject, here’s to ALL the mistakes I have learned from throughout the years — as my dad once said, if there was hard way in which to learn something, I found it.  Maybe I just liked knowing how everything worked from the inside out — needless to say, those mistakes have helped me figure myself out, and I’m grateful for that.

3 — I am grateful for Aman and Les, the guys who work the floor I park on in my garage.  They make every day better with their smiles, the knowledge that my car is safe and protected and the friendly way in which they handle even the most stressful of parking garage situations.  Five years in, and i couldn’t imagine parking anywhere else.  No matter how bad my day might have been — they are there, smiling, asking about Lucy & John and just generally being good humans.

September 23, 2014

Fourth Day of Gratefulness — the Work Edition

1 — I am grateful for my boss.  He took a chance on me and believed in me and supported me & what I was doing when other people might have been telling him that it was crazy to give me the responsibility he gave me.  And when my whole world changed he gave me flexibility to pursue my health, the time to do it, and many other resources on which a price can never be put.

2 — I am grateful for my co-workers, and especially my two ‘partners.’  It is a great feeling to get to work in an industry you love, with people who are fun to be around — honest, decent people who care as much as you do about the success of what is being done.  People you survived the trenches with — who have your back and you have theirs.

3 — I am grateful for my Aunt & Uncle — it was through them I learned about the art of hospitality, the love of food and the great industry that I have found a home in.  Sitting beside an indoor pool at one of my uncle’s hotels in the UK at the tender age of 8 or 9, he told me with a laugh that I had rich taste (as I sat noshing on delectably buttery smoked salmon & caviar) and should marry a rich man.  Well, Uncle T, I did you one better.  I’m doin’ it myself — and I learned my fundamentals from you.

September 24, 2014


I am grateful —

1 — for the small moments in life — being half awake in the grayness of the morning and hearing my puppy’s snuffles and cuddling up with my hubs … the cool autumn breeze blowing leaves in the late afternoon sunlight … the woman in the elevator who likes my dress … the crackling of a good fire pit … things that create the depth of life.

2 — for my time in Wyomissing.  We moved so much throughout my youth, that I went to two elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools.  But just being at Wyo for 2 years has impacted my life in such a positive way, even sixteen years later.  I’m grateful so much for that.  Makes me feel like I did actually come from somewhere.

3 — for contact lenses.  I can’t imagine what it must have feel like for people with vision like mine prior to glasses, but contacts were a huge improvement for me.  Maybe lasik one day ….

September 25, 2014

Grateful Day #6

1 — I am grateful for diversity.  Yeah, sometimes people who are vastly different from ourselves can prove to be infuriating.  But minus the idiots from Philly (editorial note: this was written at the time when some real geniuses thought it would be fun to beat up a gay couple … basically in center city) and others who commit just unspeakable crimes — doesn’t being different add to the spice of life?  Doesn’t it sometimes help us see things from an entirely new viewpoint? I like to think so.

2 — I am grateful for my faith.  It’s mine, and it’s personal and when things feel dark and when things feel light, I always feel as though there is a reassuring hand on my shoulder keeping me steady.

3 — I am sincerely grateful for sleep.  I know it’s a necessity of life — but I relish it.  I love slipping into cool clean sheets and snuggling under soft blankets, close to the ones I love. It’s a haven of peacefulness that comes every night, and I am supremely grateful for that.

September 26, 2014

I want to preface this by saying thank you to Angie again, because sometimes, the things we are grateful for become the things we take for granted.  And this exercise has reminded me that even in the tough times, life is a phenomenal adventure filled to the brim with wonder.

On this final day of FB status updates, I am grateful for …

1 — Yoga.  It has helped me climb from a place of physical desperation to a place of acceptance. Maybe I’ll never teach yoga, or be anything close to physically proficient.  But it has reminded me, through this new part of my journey, that even though some things have been taken away — and I often mourn those things more than I should — some things have not.

2 — Humility and self-awareness.  I am a perfectly imperfect human being.  I’ve made a load of mistakes, I’ve inadvertently (and not-so-inadvertently) hurt people.  But I’d also like to believe I’ve lifted some people up, passed along the gifts that have been given to me throughout my life.  I’ve learned that being humble is a vastly preferable alternative to being bombastically egocentric.  Both personally, and in those I spend my time with.

3 — Passion.  I spent the early years of my life pursing a passion, and I may not have found a career in it, but nothing will ever lift up my soul quite the way belting out a good song does.  Transcendent, if I’m being passionate about it.


OHI moments

So, it’s been a few weeks since I finished my week-long stay at OHI Austin.

And despite my original desire to revert completely back to all my old habits and beliefs — that stuff gets into your head!

Okay, so I wasn’t completely set on forgetting all that I’d learned.  But throughout the week I was there, it was such a roller coaster of emotion and informational input — that by the end my brain was fried and I found deep comfort in the idea that life could and would go on just as I’d been living it before checking in to room 207.

Let’s rewind for a minute.

A few months ago, my boss spent a week at a place called Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in San Diego, California.  He came back refreshed and inspired — albeit with clear opinions about certain aspects of the program — and he felt very strongly that I should look into spending some time there myself.  I googled it.  I was intrigued but in a distant sort of way — oh, it looks good for those who have money to burn, bur for someone like myself, where every penny counts?  More like a faraway dream.

And then circumstances unfolded — the man and I booked a trip to Austin Texas to visit my brother in his newly purchased home in his newly inhabited city — and all of a sudden, I was booked for a week at OHI’s Austin campus.  And before I knew it, Sunday Oct 19th rolled around and it was 4pm, and my husband and brother were waving goodbye, and I was there.  Alone.

OHI was so much more than I anticipated.  Yes, I’d googled it, and yes, I’d skimmed through some menus, and read some bold print — but I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  Over the course of five and half full days, I learned an absurd amount about my digestive system, organs in my body, the nutritional value of food and the power of the mind.  And I made some incredible friends.

The campus was beautiful and the room (where I spent a lot of time … juicing and raw vegan food wears a person out!) was very comfy.  On Sunday night we had a small orientation, but it was an early night, and I (being the anti-social monkey that I can be) retreated to my room and spent a chunk of time in tears, wondering what I’d signed myself up for, before falling into an uneasy sleep.

On Monday morning we were walked through the program.  I recognized in the other first timers some of the same trepidation and unease that I felt within myself.  Do what?  Seriously?  These people have to be out of their minds.  

I had a tough time with some of it — buying into their philosophies, their love of wheatgrass (and its ultra superhuman healing powers …), their thoughts on food, colonics/enemas, etc.  It was so much information, and a total change of thought process — so much new stuff all at once, and so intense.  I went through waves of acceptance and then vehement denial.  I knew that I had someone at the touch of a phone to be support — but sometimes I wasn’t looking for support of the program.  Sometimes I was looking for support of the exact opposite — that living my life, eating decadent restaurant food and drinking sumptuous heady wines was okay.  It wouldn’t kill me.  And after a couple of days at OHI, I was pretty sure that their whole message was that if I followed their plan, and gave up some much of what I loved, I would somehow be healed of my worst MS symptoms.  And I had a problem with that, too.

But here I am, several weeks later, and so much of what I learned is still lingering in the forefront of my mind.  Could I eat terrible food?  Sure.  But unfortunately, now I am armed with so much knowledge, it makes it hard to do that to myself.

Ignorance really is bliss.

I’m not ready to jump on a raw vegan bandwagon — too many things come to mind that I just could.not give up — at least, not all at once, cold turkey.

But I also felt that way two years ago, when my boss’s wife gave me all sorts of guidance about food, and I realized that as healthy as I thought I was being, I really  And since then, green smoothies and green juice, and eating a vegetable-based diet have become (mostly) our norm.

So despite all my skepticism, here I am, finally buying into the fact that some of that OHI mumbo jumbo was actually excellent information and I should apply it.  Just not all at once.  That’s just — well, insane.