PSA: Free Covid Tests

Just in case you haven’t heard about it, President Biden has made four covid tests available FREE to every household along with free delivery.

I signed up and it literally took less than a minute! I immediately received a confirmation email.

Thank you for caring about us, President Biden!

Here’s the link:

https://www.covidtests.gov/

Migraine Musings

It’s an amazing eighty degrees here today and I woke up with a migraine. I don’t get them very often, thank goodness, but this one put the brakes on any plans to bask in the warmth of the winter sun.

I don’t know what caused this debilitating headache; I didn’t do or eat anything that could have triggered it.

I hate when I don’t feel great; I’m a much better nurse to others than the one who needs a little helping hand so I’m feeling sorry for myself.

This popped up, which fairly represents my pity party. Sylvia Plath is quite perceptive.

GO VEGAN in 2022 #Veganuary

(That’s me, one of my favorite pics!)

Of all the positive and healthy choices one could implement for 2022, how about becoming #vegan?

A great way to start the process is to visit https://veganuary.com/

There’s a blog along with recipes and a Getting Started eating guide with shopping and nutrition tips.

Do it for yourself, to prevent animal suffering, and the environment.

No human needs to eat the flesh or secretions of a dead creature.

If you choose to join the movement, please let me know so I can give you encouragement, support, and a virtual high five!

How to Rewire Our Brain for JOY in 2022

Happy New Year! Best wishes to everyone for a safe, healthy, abundant, and JOYFUL 2022.

Since my DIL is a neuroscientist, anything that relates to the brain and how it works is a topic of conversation around Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

According to Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Health, Happiness, and Wisdom, we can change our mind–to change our brain–to change our mind.

The beauty of self-directed neuroplasticity means we really can teach old dogs new tricks.

Author Rick Hanson’s premise is that if we intentionally choose positive thoughts, we can change our life for the better.

Here’s an excerpt about JOY:

Internalizing the Positive

1. Turn positive facts into positive experiences. Good things keep happening all around us, but much of the time we don’t notice them; even when we do, we often hardly feel them. Someone is nice to you, you see an admirable quality in yourself, a flower is blooming, you finish a difficult project — and it all just rolls by. Instead, actively look for good news, particularly the little stuff of daily life: the faces of children, the smell of an orange, a memory from a happy vacation, a minor success at work, and so on. Whatever positive facts you find, bring a mindful awareness to them — open up to them and let them affect you. It’s like sitting down to a banquet: don’t just look at it — dig in!

2. Savor the experience. It’s delicious! Make it last by staying with it for 5, 10, even 20 seconds; don’t let your attention skitter off to something else. The longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory.

“Focus on your emotions and body sensations, since these are the essence of implicit memory. Let the experience fill your body and be as intense as possible. For example, if someone is good to you, let the feeling of being cared about bring warmth to your whole chest.

“Pay particular attention to the rewarding aspects of the experience — for example, how good it feels to get a great big hug from someone you love. Focusing on these rewards increases dopamine release, which makes it easier to keep giving the experience your attention, and strengthens its neural associations in implicit memory. You’re not doing this to cling to the rewards — which would eventually make you suffer — but rather to internalize them so that you carry them inside you and don’t need to reach for them in the outer world.

“You can also intensify an experience by deliberately enriching it. For example, if you are savoring a relationship experience, you could call up other feelings of being loved by others, which will help stimulate oxytocin — the ‘bonding hormone’ — and thus deepen your sense of connection. Or you could strengthen your feelings of satisfaction after completing a demanding project by thinking about some of the challenges you had to overcome.

3. Imagine or feel that the experience is entering deeply into your mind and body, like the sun’s warmth into a T-shirt, water into a sponge, or a jewel placed in a treasure chest in your heart. Keep relaxing your body and absorbing the emotions, sensations, and thoughts of the experience.”

Planting Seeds: Bija Mantras for Chakras

I hope everyone had all their Christmas wishes come true!

Instead of writing about resolutions for 2022, I think it’s more helpful to share info about things that are easier to attain so I’ll share what I learned about seed mantras– bija mantras–to create and enable healthy transformations all year long.

What is a Mantra? A sound, syllable, word, or group of words considered capable of “creating transformation.” The Sanskrit word mantra means “instrument of thought”.

What is Bija Mantra? Bija means seed. Bija mantras are one-syllable seed sounds that, when said aloud, activate the energy of the chakras in order to purify and balance mind/body.

What is a chakra? In Sanskrit, chakra translates into “wheel”. These “wheels” can be thought of as vortexes that both receive and radiate energy. There are seven major energy centers in the human body, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Emotions, physical health, and mental clarity affect how well each chakra can filter energy. This in turn dictates how pure the energy is that’s emitted from different regions of the body.

Chant the bija mantras, either one at a time or in sequences. Repetition can help you access a meditative state. Try to focus on the different regions of the body associated with each syllable/chakra as you go through the bija mantras. 

  • LAM: Root Chakra – I am
  • VAM: Sacral Chakra – I feel
  • RAM: Solar Plexus Chakra – I do
  • YAM: Heart Chakra – I love
  • HAM: Throat Chakra – I speak
  • OM: Third Eye Chakra – I see
  • OM: Crown Chakra – I understand

Option: Choose one sound that really resonates with you and repeat that one several times. I like this brief seven minute chant, but there are literally hundreds of them on YouTube. Search for a voice that feels good.

Some info curated from http://ar-yoga.com/2011/10/bija-mantras-the-sounds-of-the-chakras-lam-vam-ram-yam-ham-om/

Beach Walk + Gratitude

Last Tuesday I had my annual ultrasound to check on the status of a tiny cyst that’s been attached to my gall bladder for years. The abdominal ultrasound also checks everything else plus pancreas. I’m especially freaked out about that organ because of my mom’s cancer.

It was a fasting test which is no big deal because I don’t eat breakfast anyway, never have, but coffee isn’t allowed either, and THAT was a bit of a hardship. I brewed some before I left and stored in an insulated cup so I could gulp it down as soon as I got back to my car after the test.

The woman that actually did the test was literally one of the most enlightened, awakened angels I’ve ever encountered with a spirit that calmed me down as soon as she introduced herself.

She was four months pregnant and we talked about that and the grandkids and how I was lucky enough to be present for both of their really long ultrasound appointments and we talked about the ups and downs and lessons of life’s journey. It was more of a therapy session with a healer than having my abs squirted with WARM jell so she could see all of my inner working parts.

She let me know the size and location of the cyst hadn’t changed and everything else looked good. I know they’re not really supposed to TELL, they’re supposed to wait until the formal results from the doc, so I really really appreciate that she didn’t make me suffer for a few hours.

We hugged. I told her she was going to be an amazing mom and she teared up a bit.

What a brief and significant connection with a random human! Her spirit infused me with a positive and happy glow.

As I drove home, sipping my still hot French roast, I got a call that my new glasses were ready to be picked up.

I drove to my downtown village area near the beach and tried on my new frames to have them adjusted and fine tuned. This time instead of Versace or Prada, I got Salt, a brand that was new to me, but really adorbs.

Salt Optics was started by a couple of surfers and a guy from Oliver Peoples. They are ultra COOL.

“SALT is committed to using only the most premium handmade cellulose acetate in the world. Our acetate is created from cotton seeds and wood pulp, which allows it to be hypoallergenic and sustainable. We partner with Takiron Rowland, a Japanese acetate factory that has been producing handmade acetate for the better part of 100 years.”

OK, good to know. I love them because they fit my small face yet they’re bold and make a statement.

Cute, huh?

It was about 11 a.m. and I decided to walk to the beach, something I never do this late in the day, mostly because it was already hot and dry with the Santa Ana weather. I thought it would be overrun with loud and obnoxious tourists, but it was still relatively quiet.

I felt like I needed some vitamin sea because I was so grateful for a good test result. Every year I stress about it, wondering what’s going on inside of me and if the cyst migrated to a duct or grew which could mean a whole other diagnosis and necessary treatment.

But it didn’t, all was good, and I might even be lucky enough to see a whale or a dolphin, so I started walking.

The Pacific Ocean was a lake, no waves to speak of, no whales or dolphin, but it was lovely to breathe in the salty air which reminded me of my new Salt frames lol, and after a couple miles, I turned around to head back to my car.

I was parked near the consignment shop where I’ve found treasures in the past, but I left empty handed; nothing caught my eye.

There’s so much to be grateful for every single day, not just on Thanksgiving.

Lake Pacific:

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

No eclipse viewing for me, the sky was overcast last night!

Let’s all be aware of the signs of pancreatic cancer.

My mom had CA of the pancreas, even though she had very low risk factors. Back when she got it, the only way to know for sure was to open her up for exploratory surgery. After that, it was a brief three months until she died.

I miss her every day. I’m sad she died when the original Angel Boy was only six and never got to see him get his doctorate from Yale, get married, and have his own Angels. She loved him so much and was such a big part of his life that he started calling both of us “Mom” and we’d answer in unison, “Which one do you want?”

We took care of her here at home with hospice support. Although she was able to tolerate high doses of morphine, the pain was overwhelming.

About ten years before an official diagnosis, she was consistently nauseous after eating and started taking papaya enzymes.

With her vast medical knowledge as the head RN at a local hospital, she probably had a really good idea what was wrong with her but did all she could to find any other reason for her symptoms. She had her gall bladder and spleen removed but nothing helped. As it still is, pancreatic cancer is a death sentence.

It’s the same horrible disease that killed Alex Trebek, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Patrick Swayze.

The most significant symptom I’d suggest to be aware of is nausea after eating. Start keeping a journal and get to the right doctor as soon as possible.

We need more research to stop this terrible disease.

Image

‘When in doubt, toss it out…”

Do you do that?

Do you check for mold on your food and eat it anyway or do you do as my RN mom did, throw it out?

I used to be pretty lax about eating questionable food, whether it was moldy-ish bread or food that had been sitting in the refrigerator for a while. My mom was always lecturing me about botulism and blah blah blah, I don’t remember what she said as I usually stopped listening to her, but I wish I had paid more attention!

Last night I made a batch of lentil veggie soup with black beans and tofu because I wanted to transform it into veggie burgers. I picked fresh celery and chard from the garden; added carrots and broccoli and herbs. It was all happily bubbling away on the stove and smelled really good.

Then I looked in the refrigerator and spied a jar of tomato sauce that had been opened but was still half full. I think it had been there for a couple of months. I don’t often use prepared tomato sauce because I prefer making my own from scratch but I thought it would add great tomato-y flavor. It looked OK and wasn’t past the expiration date, so I poured it in the pot. That’s when I noticed the cap was full of mold and spores and fuzzy stuff.

I surely wish I had thought to look BEFORE I added it, but that’s another lesson learned.

Gross, huh?

What to do? Did that mean my soup was contaminated? Should I take a chance that cooking it would kill whatever the bacteria was?

I agonized because I HATE to throw away food, especially since I had just added a whole container of tofu.

I researched and queried and the results weren’t clear. Some said it’s fine as long as the mold was only on the lid, some said to toss it out.

I’ve had food poisoning before (not from MY cooking haha) and it’s more than unpleasant. I will forever be reminded of the food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids, one of my all time favorite films.

According to the USDA, mold can cause allergic reactions or digestive and respiratory problems. Certain kinds of molds produce poisonous mycotoxins that make people sick or cause infections and one might even need to be hospitalized.

Anyway…I’m sure my mom would be very happy to know that I tossed it out. All of it.

I then had absolutely nothing to eat for dinner. Not one single thing, so I ate a bowl of oatmeal accompanied by a glass of wine in my sparkly new goblet.

Definitely follow me for more cooking and fine dining tips!

Foot Fetish

Due to a communications mixup, I didn’t get to see the new podiatrist until today.

Lemme back up…about a month ago, my foot started to hurt after a long walk. At first I thought it was a stress fracture, but there was no bruising.

Pretend doc that I think I am, I decided it was a joint or tendon injury: extensor tendonitis and possibly capsulitis of the second metatarsal. I wore a boot in the house, iced it, soaked in epsom salts, taped it up with KT tape, and did a lot of stretching.

Refusing to give in to the pain, I forced my poor foot to go on long walks that were excruciatingly painful.

Finally, this morning, I got an xray and waited for the doc. Actually there were two of them that came in to see me, ‘cos I guess it was a slow Monday. They asked me what happened and I gave them both the benefit of my ZERO years of medical school.

I was pretty chatty and finally, one of them broke in and said, “How’d you like to look at the xray?”

I said, “Well, you could have shut me up about five minutes ago haha”, but he said he liked listening to my diagnosis, even though I was totally wrong.

The xray left no doubt as to what the problem is IT’S a COMPLETELY BROKEN stress fracture at the base of the toe and not healing because I kept re-injuring it.

My initial diagnosis was correct! I should have gone to medical school for real, oh well, too late now…

I hate my feet, I really do, they’re tiny but completely deformed from too many years of ballet and toe-crushing pointe shoes, in addition to breaking every toe multiple times because I’m CARELESS. I call them my fat little trotters.

I can’t walk anywhere for two weeks, I have to wear a hiking boot in the house, I can’t go barefoot at all, and I had to promise to actually and truly wear the boot so I wouldn’t be forced to have an aircast up to my knee. In other words, my foot needs to be completely immobilized.

On the plus side, they told me I had the softest feet they had ever seen, (which was only slightly weird) and they loved my high arches–from an anatomical perspective. The docs said I should see the rest of the feet THEY have to look at all day, and in that regard, my feet were a PLEASURE. LOL. AND that my sunny disposition cheered them both up because they were having a not-so-great Monday. We spent a lot of time laughing which made me happy, too.

There’s a SLIGHT chance I’ll have to have surgery in January, but only if it doesn’t finish healing correctly if I disregard their expert advice.

That’s my Monday, I hope yours is less fraught with injury!

“Are you my Grandma?”

I got the Covid booster at my local CVS because it was easier and closer than the location my doc’s office was using. I didn’t want to drive home all the way from Del Mar just in case I had another allergic reaction.

**** You can read about that experience HERE: https://enchantedseashells.com/2021/01/23/rainbows-ivs-my-covid-vaccine-experience/ ****

There was a line even though we all had appointments, but I was glad to see so many people getting vaccines and boosters.

The woman behind me had her four-year-old daughter with her and clearly didn’t anticipate a wait so she hadn’t brought any books or toys for her little girl who was becoming slightly impatient. (Me too!)

I’ve learned that sometimes it helps to distract kids by engaging in conversation and told her how much I liked her sparkly shirt and that did it; I had a friend for life! She responded by telling me she loved my curly hair. I showed her photos of my adorable Angel Kids, the one with hair curlier than mine and the other with fiery titian hair.

“Hey, mom, LOOK! She has red hair just like me!”

“Are you my grandma too?

“No, honey, I’m grandma to this little boy and this little girl.”

“Can I see more pictures?”

Her mom nodded approval, so we spent a few minutes looking at pictures of T and C, which distracted her until it was my turn for the vaccine and we said goodbye.

It wasn’t as fulfilling as spending time with my own angels, but it still felt good to share some of my grandma magic.

It’s been an hour post-booster, and I guess I’ll live. I had a very slight allergic reaction, a little throat issue and asthma. They brought me Gatorade and readied an EpiPen but I didn’t need it because my albuterol inhaler helped forestall a severe respiratory issue. Even thought I had forced hydration for the last couple of days, I was PARCHED and drank the giant thirty two ounce bottle in about five minutes.

When I got home, I took Benadryl and Tylenol because I already had a headache and chills which tells me that I still have a robust immune system, nothing that ginger tea and a soft blanket can’t fix.

Oh, and the nice people from CVS gave me stickers for my Angel Kids, so I’m a happy, fully vaxxed grandma.