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Showing posts from March, 2019

Year Four, Day 113: Qi Gong Breathing and Anxiety

Today is Day 30 of my return to daily hooping practice!  Time does fly!  And I am really starting to reap the benefits of my renewed discipline.

The daily Qi Gong has been instrumental.  I realize now how important breathing is to health. Heck, it's important to life!

I picked up another book on Qi Gong from the library yesterday. It's called The Qigong Workbook for Anxiety by Master Kam Chuen Lam.

This book was written for me.  At least that is how it feels. I do not, after all know Master Kam Chuen Lam personally.

Although I certainly wish I did!

I woke up early this morning and set out on a mission. To buy a gift certificat for my daughter. Tomorrow is her 29th birthday! Talk about time flying!

I look at my granddaughter, and sometimes I feel like I am looking at my own baby girl. They have the same sweet, round, innocent face. And scathingly brilliant minds and precocious attitudes. I love them both dearly and wouldn't change a hair on their heads.

After I picked up my…

Year Four, Day 112: Healthy Routines

I am so pleased that I am at a place where I can truly enjoy immersing myself in a good novel, again.  Books have been my escape since I was a small child.  Escape has been a big part of my life.  I found comfort in going away on little imaginary journeys in my mind.

Coming back to earth, I often landed with a thud.

But now, at age 57, as a grandma who is finally finding balance in her life, I can truly enjoy a good book. And not land with a thud. Overall I enjoy the reality of my everyday life.

Thank goodness I have established some healthy routines.

Today, even on my last day off of spring break, I began with Qi Gong breathing exercises, followed by a hoop workout.  Then I read my bible, prayed, wrote in my journal, ate breakfast, cleaned the kitchen and put the makings for a sweet potato soup in my crockpot.  I was aiming for African Peanut soup, but I found a recipe for sweet potato soup with almond butter that sounded inviting.  It was from The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Slow Cooker …

Year Four, Day 111: LHOP

I had a wonderful morning with my granddaughter. I am trying an experiment. Zero television.  She is highly intelligent - already know the first 5 letters of the alphabet, and many colors, body parts, sign language and plays the piano with me (with curved fingers!)  I know, I am slightly prejudiced, being her Zma and all. But she is brilliant!

She also gets zoned out when watching t.v. We started watching Little House on the Prairie when she was just a baby - after Baby Einstein.  I wanted to watch wholesome television in her honor. So I actually checked out the pilot episode from the library when she was just a wee one. But she was interested right away! She began pointing and the screen and shrieking "dog" every time she saw Laura Ingalls' dog, Jack.  Now she identifies Ma, Pa, Laura, Jack and the horses (who she calls "Nay!".

I think our little family became a bit weary of Little House on the Prairie or "LHOP" as we fondly nicknamed it.  Personally…

Year Four, Day 110: Zita, The Humble

I am enjoying my spring break! Especially as I gaze out the large windows of the Fort Vancouver Library and see a clear, pastel blue sky.

I will keep this post brief. I am immersed in a wonderful book, am applying for a church pianist position and making Tandori chicken tonight!

I must say, I got a bit goosebumply this morning. 3:00 a.m. it was. My eyes flew wide open. I was afraid I overslept. It was another breakfast with Mother morning. We are loving the Diner. Good food and we save so much that sometimes we go twice a week!

Today was the twice!

Anyway, I couldn't get back to sleep. I played a few rousing games of Words With Friends (I am currently beating nearly all of my opponents!)

Then I decided my adrenaline was pumping way to strenuously. I would never doze back off!

So I opened Facebook. Not much going on. I did read a bit about the poor people of Mozambique. Cyclone Idai is a monster and has showed no mercy. I said a prayer for them. I wish I could do more.

Then somethi…

Year Four, Day 109: Asthma and Qi Gong

I had a doctor's appointment today with my Pulmonary Physician's Assistant.  I really like her.  I do not go to my primary care physician anymore.  It was like entering the Twilight Zone.  I have nothing else to say about that experience. I am just moving forward.

I found out today, that I do indeed have asthma.  That is my official diagnosis. Not COPD as my previous doctor said "I probably had".

She was quite pleased with all my hard work and progress.  We are going to try increasing the dosage of the Q-Var, which is an inhaled steroid medication used to treat asthma. It is used daily as a long term treatment, it is used to prevent inflammation in the lungs. It is not a "rescue inhaler", like Ventolin which is a bronchodilator.  I use Ventolin when I am having trouble breathing, or controlling a very constricted cough. This inhaler opens up the airways during an asthma attack and helps me control my breathing and coughing.

I told my PA I haven't had to u…

Year Four, Day 108: Another Bus Story and The Diner

So there I was, boarding the #2 bus eastbound on SE Division Thursday, my one very good day. I heading to the gym before my next students. I was feeling peaceful and balanced, since it was my one good day a month. The bus was crowded, but there was an empty seat upfront. Next to an older man, wearing a long dirty overcoat and a beanie hat. He was having a loud, animated conversation . Apparently with himself. I glanced at him and smiled. He smiled shyly back. His faced was dirty, and leathery looking. His nose was red. But his eyes were brilliant blue and lively.

I looked around at the other passengers. No one else established eye contact. They were either looking at their cell phones or staring straight ahead, in a most serious fashion.

At the next stop, the dirty man stood up, hoisting a large duffel bag onto his back.

To no one in particular, and probably everyone on the bus he said, "I guess I'd better stop being a worthless bum and go to work".

I looked up at him.…

Year Four, Day 107: My One Good Day

I am having a very good day today. I'm almost afraid to blink. I feel completely balanced.  I can breath freely through my nose and my lungs are clear. I do not hurt anywhere.

Perhaps I do have a soy allergy? I also have started using Flonase again. But I've used it before and did not see such a dramatic result.

It could be a combination of everything I am doing:  Qi Gong, daily hooping, walking, breathing exercises, keeping up with household chores, praying, eating healthier - staying away from wheat and now soy, focusing on whole foods - drinking more water.

Or perhaps I am just having my one very good day a month. I'll take it!

I am also starting to appreciate my daily routine.  And settling into my new community. Today after I did my Qi Gong and hooped, I made a big pot of turkey chili - ground turkey, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, green chiles, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, cumin, chili powder and a dash of cinnamon.   It tasted divine! Even my granddau…

Year Four, Day 106: A Tortilla Press, My Nose and a Possible Soy Allergy

My tortilla press arrived last night. I was so excited to try it!

This morning I made a dozen corn tortillas. My granddaughter helped. I gave her a small ball of masa to knead. She was fascinated. Looked at it in her little hand and squealed, "Ball!"

All was well until she tried to eat a big lump. I had to fish it out of mouth so she didn't choke.






They turned out quite lovely! I then sauteed some mushrooms, garlic and green onions in butter. I added some Braggs Liquid Aminos, which adds a lot of flavor without gluten.

I put them on top of my corn tortillas with a bit of guacamole and cheese. I expected my granddaughter to pick off the mushrooms and just eat the tortilla and cheese. But she gobbled up the mushrooms!

I was quite pleased.

I did wake up a bit late this morning. I was having severe allergy problems yesterday. So severe were they, that I was considering a hospital visit.  At moments during my day, I could actually feel my sinuses swell up. I could not breathe …

Year Four, Day 105: Another Bus Story and Qi Gong Breathing Exercises

Another glorious day in the hood!  Today is not only clear and sunny, but it is warm enough that I am commuting with only a hoodie! I was brave and left my winter coat at home. I may regret it on the ride back home, but I am willing to take that risk!

Speaking of hoodies, I had another bus experience I'd like to share. It was downtown Vancouver. I had just come from Starbucks, matcha green tea, soy latte in hand. I had about a 5 minute wait for the 105 I-5 Express bus from Vancouver to Portland.

I love the Express bus. Almost as much as I love the "Vine", which goes up and down 4th Plain in Vancouver, at least every 15 minutes, from 5:30 a.m. until after midnight.

The Express bus goes from downtown Vancouver to downtown Portland every weekday until 7:20.  I am always happy to catch this bus. It's 15 minutes from downtown Couv to downtown P-Town, on a good day.  No more than 30 minutes in heavy traffic.

The only catch is it's quite a bit more expensive.  A day pa…

Year Four, Day 104: New Library Home!

I am so happy!
I am sitting in the Fort Vancouver Library downtown Vancouver. It is Sunday at 3:52 p.m. The weather is glorious.  And this library is simply amazing! Not only is it brand new, gigantic and clean, it is open M-Th 9-8 and F-Su 10-6.  Even better hours then Multnomah county!



On a whim I called the library yesterday. I told the friendly lady on the phone that I had recently moved back to Vancouver, but had not taken the time to get my Washington driver's license.  I asked her if I could get a library card.
"Of course!", she gushed quite enthusiastically. "Just bring your I.D. and mail that proves your residency.
That I did. And here I am, grinning like the Cheshire Cat! 
I love libraries!
I grew up in Vancouver. Some of the happiest moments in my life were at the old library.  I spent most of my summer going to and from the library, with a stack of books.  
I would have gotten my degree in Library Science rather than music, if it had not been for my ner…

Year Four, Day 103: Practice

I treated myself to a haircut today.  Got 3 inches wacked off, I did!

I love it! I feel so much lighter!  I'm actually looking forward to all the grey coming in. Embracing my grandmahood and proud of it!





The stylist at Supercuts was a sweet young lady. She was quite supportive of me embracing my authenticity.

I feel like I am on the right track, finally.  This morning I woke up before the break of dawn and did a short Tai Chi workout and then my hooping.

I am recommitting myself to a low-carb, gluten free lifestyle.  My tummy feels better and I feel like my entire system is flowing better. I don't feel tense or bloated.

I even did a stretching and breathing workout with one of my piano classes today.  A class of six year-old, very rambunctious students.  One boy likes to stand when we get together for circle time at the beginning of class. Circle time is when we share about our week and I talk about "the plan" for our class.  This boy is well-behaved, but prefers sta…

Year Four, Day 102: Homemade Corn Tortillas and "A Moment of Sheer Grace"

I am finally feeling progress with my daily hooping!  And I discovered a secret. I do Tai Chi before I hoop. I find that I am not as winded, and can hoop for longer once I've done some light Tai Chi and breathing exercises. I am still quite the beginner, but as I progress, I will bravely post my Tai Chi workout.

I am feeling a sense of freedom today.  My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are on vacation. I am home alone with the Honey Dog. I am getting some much needed sleep, spring cleaning and cooking time.

I am proud to say I have mastered the art of homemade corn tortillas, without a press even!



I was so thrilled with the results, I ordered a tortilla press and tortilla warmer online. They should arrive this weekend. In the meantime, I hand pressed my tortillas with two pieces of cardboard and a plastic bag.

They turned out lovely and tasty. And gluten free! Now I have another option for when I travel to Portland to teach. I can just pop these puppies in my bag so that I …

Year Four, Day 101: Two Hoops, a Choir Concert and Eternal Waves of Bliss

I'm accompanying a choir in concert tonight. I've been their pianist for the past nearly 20 years. The music we're performing tonight is lovely. It stirs my soul.

But I have been tired and sluggish all day
 Wheezy too. I want to enjoy this musical experience tonight. Musical performance is like surfing. Hooping on the board, catching the wave and just being in each glorious moment while it lasts.

I've never surfed. But I've watched surfers. And I imagine the exhilaration they feel when they ride the wave. Even when they crash, they get back up and paddle furiously to catch the next one.

In fact, some of life's most glorious moments are like that. I struggle with anxiety and depression. So a good musical wave is what heals me.

If only I could remain there. Perhaps that will have to wait for the next life. I imagine that is what heaven will be like. Eternal waves of bliss.

But back to my wheezy, miserable state. I managed to pull myself up. I did one early mornin…

Year Four, Day 100: S.A.D.

WOW! What a glorious day!  The sunshine feels like it is permeating my soul!

On days like this after a long, cold, dark winter, I wonder if I am yet another sufferer of S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Unless you've been living under a rock (and that would be depressing), you have probably heard of it.  Here is a blurb from the Mayo Clinic:

"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy.
Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep y…

Year Four, Day 99: The Cofee-Asthma Connection and Tree Therapy

The breathing exercises are definitely helping!  AND I made at least three more discoveries today that I'd like to share. If you have not become weary of my cough/asthma dilemma!

First, I watched a very helpful video about clearing mucous from the chest.  It's called "Clearing Your Chest with Breathing Exercises" https://youtu.be/kC-H8fFzZes 


It is produced by the NHS Forth Valley physiotherapy program in Scotland. I have mastered the "HA" technique and my lungs feel quite clear at this point! The woman teaching the technique is adorable. She has a lovely accent and she encourages us to drink more water, but not too much so as not to spend all of our time in the "loo"!

I wonder if that is where the lyrics for the song "Skip to My Lou" come from?

I am drinking more water. And I am spending much time in the loo. But feeling better. I have noticed over the course of this blog, that I have had to remind myself to drink more water. I will con…

Year Four, Day 98: Goodbye Favorite Starbucks Store and I Can Breathe!

Most sad am I! My favorite Starbucks store will be closing its doors forever on 3/16/2109!

Many of my favorite hangouts in my old hood have closed: The Original Taco House, Mojo's, OJ's, Pho Dalat and Pho Hung. Many happy memories with my kids exist between those walls. But this one hit me particularly hard. Perhaps because it is my landing pad after my commute from Vancouver before I head in to teach piano down the street. Or maybe this goes further back. After all, this was the home of Cupie Cone before the mini strip mall that houses the soon to be defunct Starbucks in this very location.

Ah memories. Bit we cannot live in the past, can we!

Onward to a more pleasant subject. My chest is slowly clearing! I do believe my hard work is paying off! The breathing exercises, in particular seem to be effective!

Nerd that I am, I recorded a short video of me practicing the slow intake of air through the nose, followed by holding my breath for a few seconds, and then expelling air th…

Year Four, Day 97: The Cough Log

Yesterday was a good day.

Tuesday night is choir practice. Being surrounded by music always soothes my soul.  I was so pleased that I made all my bus connections going home!

I even had time to stop at the supermarket. I decided to get a good cough syrup to help me quiet my cough at night to help me sleep.

I've been doing quite a bit of research on coughing, asthma, GERD and the like.  I think I have been under the mistaken impression that coughing, especially "productive" coughing is a good thing. In other words, get that phlegm outta there! (Sorry if that is TMI)

But some experts say that excessive coughing irritates the throat and lungs which causes more phlegm to be produced.

(That word "phlegm" is disturbing. It actually sounds like the substance it is describing!)

I have been practicing breathing exercises. In particular "Buteyko" exercises.

The "Buteyko Breathing Technique is a form of complementary or alternativephysical therapy that propo…

Year Four, Day 96:My Lungs

Early this afternoon, I was standing at the bus stop downtown Vancouver, with a hot cup of tea in my hand. I breathed in slowly and noticed I wasn't coughing. I also noticed the sun felt warm upon my head. It was a glorious moment.

But it didn't last.

Fast forward to 5:06 p.m. The sky is slate gray, yet again and a bitter, cold wind is blowing.

On March 5th!

I don't mind the rain, but this bitter cold is getting old!

And my cough is driving me crazy. A few posts ago, I said I had accepted that this cough was here to stay. I even named him. Charlie. But I've decided I need to serve Charlie with an eviction notice. I'm fed up!


I picked up a prescription for my rescue inhaler once I got to Portland. I was precariously low; only 7 puffs left!

That made me nervous. And I have noticed that when I get nervous or anxious, I cough.

I had an enlightening conversation about my cough with an adult student of mine this afternoon. I hope I didn't bore her. But  I have decide…

Year Four, Day 95: Embracing Grandmahood and Silver Strands!

I did it! I went to the gym yesterday! 

It was frigid cold.  But the sky was clear and the most scrumptious shade of blue.  Not much wind. So I got myself vertical and walked briskly through the park to the bus stop. I had a nice easy treadmill workout. Then I decided to walk to the church next door. 

They are a very welcoming, community oriented church. One of their focuses is serving the homeless. I like walking in and feeling at home.  There is always free hot tea and tables available. I had a nice cup of Earl Grey tea and found myself a table near one of the big screens so I could watch the service while I did my Bible study and prayer journaling. 

When the sermon started, I felt compelled to enter the area of worship. I am glad I did.  I stood in the back against the wall. I wept during the praise songs.  It felt like my soul was being cleansed. I was glad for the darkness, and the large crowd. The solitude I feel in a crowd has nothing to do with loneliness. I like being alone i…