Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized

Weight Watchers Embarrassment

I’ve debated whether to share this embarrassing experience, but here goes…

Last week, I went to Weight Watchers.

That’s not even the embarrassing part.

After Weight Watchers, I went to the car repair shop, the grocery store, and Costco.

When I got home, I realized I never took off my Weight Watchers nametag.

Hello world! My name is Laurie.

I am a Weight Watcher.

I try not to advertise this because, for me, living the WW lifestyle is like slogging through mud.

Progress is slow and imperceptible, which makes talking about it very unpleasant.

Conversations go something like this:

You’re on Weight Watchers?

Yes

How much have you lost?

One pound

How long have you been on it?

A long time.

And that’s all you’ve lost?

Yes, thank you.

How much do you want to lose?

A lot.

How long is it going to take you?

The rest of my life and into eternity, thank you very much.

 Now let me back up to the Weight Watcher meeting that launched my horrible, no good, very bad day.

We were challenged to fit indulgences into our eating plan.

The logic is if you eat what you love, you won’t feel deprived and quit.

A lot of people said they eat a piece of Dove chocolate for their daily dose of deliciousness.

image

I left the meeting determined to eat chocolate.

So now, let’s review what happened in light of the WW Chocolate Challenge.

First, at the car place, the friendly customer service guy told me his life story.

He’s part Iranian, part Turkish, and married a Latino. They have a five-month old baby girl, and said she’s a pretty good sleeper. He showed me pictures of her on his phone.

And, can you believe he hasn’t been to Turkey since he was two years old? He wants to go back soon.

As you can see, we established some rapport over the counter while discussing my wiper blades, oil change and tire rotations.

So, you think he might have mentioned the nametag, right?

No, he did not.

As I was leaving to get my loaner car, he said, “Do you want a snack from the snack room? We have some chips and candy bars.”

Remembering the chocolate challenge, I caved at the word “candy,” and took the fun-sized SNICKERS for the road.

But, wait a minute.

He saw my big old nametag, didn’t know about the chocolate challenge, and, still offered me candy and chips?

You call that good customer service?

I do not.

Next up is the grocery store, where, of course, I rose to the morning’s WW challenge and bought a bag of Dove Promises.

I can only imagine what that clerk thought as she scanned it, while noticing I looked like a Weight Watchers billboard.

Then there was Costco.

I wish I could say I ignored the old people in hairnets handing out food samples.

I did not.

I sampled a chip with guacamole on one aisle, a pretzel on the next, and ended with a sip of yogurt before I left.

Again, I can only imagine what people thought as they saw me stuffing myself with snacks while sporting that not-so-subtle WW nametag.

My errands ended up costing me a good number of WW points, and a lot of embarrassment.

But, wait, there’s more…

Later, that afternoon, Mr. Snickers Saboteur called to tell me my car was ready for pick-up.

“It’s very important to me that you give me a 10 on the customer service survey. So, is there anything else I can do to make sure you’re satisfied with our service?”

“Wait a minute. Did you see the badge I was wearing?”

“Yes.”

“So, you saw the WW nametag, let me leave still wearing it, and gave me a Snickers?”

“Um, yes, I guess I did. So, does this mean you’re going to give me a zero instead of a 10?”

“Probably.”

I hung up the phone and thought, “what’s the matter with people?”

It should be a rule that if customers come in wearing WW nametags, you should tell them before they embarrass themselves by eating things like chocolate and chips and guacamole while wearing a flashing neon sign that says, “I’m a Weight Watcher.”

No, that man handing out Snickers to Weight Watchers members is definitely not getting a 10 because if I blame him, I feel a little less embarrassed…

Just a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal

Blah-Grr

Dear loyal blog readers,

Lately I have been a blah-grrr.

As in, I feel too blah to blog.

Grrr.

I blame it on winter.

2014-03-17 07.54.21

I’m cold.

And, I’ve been mourning the loss of the Braverman family on NBC’s Parenthood.

I don’t watch much TV so it upsets me that the only show I really love ended.

I haven’t been able to think straight since Zeek’s heart attack.

Parenthood

Okay so that’s only part of the problem.

It’s also J-a-n-u-a-r-y.

Longest month of the year, well except for the supposedly shortest month of

F—e—b—r—u—a—r—y.

January means New Year’s resolutions.

Goal-setting.

I am tired of setting goals and trying to be better.

Let everyone else challenge themselves to “the next level” or “dive into their passions” or “live the life of their dreams,” or “maximize their performance.”

Whatever.

I’ve always been a fairly ambitious person and goals have been a big part of my life.

But, right now, my most ambitious goal is to put my sunglasses back in their case after I wear them so they won’t get scratched.

You. Think. I’m. Kidding.

Maybe aging is the culprit here but when I read things about setting big, hairy, audacious goals, I just want to take a nap.

In fact, taking an occasional nap seems like another good goal for 2015.

2014-03-23 18.48.34

So, there you have it, hold me to it, dear readers.

In 2015 I am going to take good care of my sunglasses and take a few naps.

I’m also not going to finish books I don’t like.

Too many great books in the world for me to suffer through the ones that only hold a vague promise of getting better soon.

So, goodbye to Anna Quindlen’s book Still Life With Bread Crumbs.

anna

Other readers may love you, but I don’t.

So you’re going to the donation bin so that someone else can try to love you.

And, I’m not going to have a weight loss goal either.

2014-03-24 09.35.14

Nope. Not this year.

If it by some miracle it happens, fantastic.

But it’s not a goal.

I’m not writing it down, posting inspiring quotes around my house or taping pictures of perfect women on the fridge to motivate me.

No siree.

No SMART goals for me this year.

I’m going to be happy as a slacker.

2014-06-26 11.55.44

My sister sent me the perfect quote to support me in my quest of slacker-ness.

“Dieting is easy. It’s like riding a bike. And the bike’s on fire. And the ground’s on fire. And everything’s on fire because you’re in hell.”

Got that right.

This year is going to be different.

Happy New Year.

I hope I’ve been a source of great inspiration to you all.

If not that, a dose of my reality.

About Me, Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing

Exploding Head Syndrome

I’ve ignored this poor blog a lot lately.

I could say I’ve been too busy, but that seems shallow.

Not too busy to buy Lucky Charms and comb my troll doll's hair to help us win at Beach Bingo
Not too busy to buy Lucky Charms and comb my troll doll’s hair to help us win at Beach Bingo

Writing is something I love. It’s therapeutic for me.

So, when I’m not writing, something’s up and I know I need to stop and figure out what is going on with me.

Happily, I’ve figured it out.

I’ve been suffering from Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS).

This happens when I take on too much and my brain gets so full that it feels like it’s going to pop.

Really — burst like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Except, not pretty fireworks.

I can’t write if my head is too full.

It’s like trying to knit but not being able to find the beginning of the yarn ball.

I can’t access one thought and follow it from beginning to end because my ideas are tripping all over each other.

I wish I could say this doesn’t happen very often, but that would be a lie.

I give myself massive headaches from this Exploding Head Syndrome.

One of my greatest strengths is that I am a creative idea person.

That also is one of my greatest weaknesses.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one whose strengths can also be their weaknesses.)

I fall in love with good ideas, and I hate to let them go.

Idea: plant more of these beauties
Idea: plant more of these beauties

I get attached to my ideas.

They are like embryos with amazing potential and they beg to be nurtured.

But, how many ideas in embryo can one human being nurture at a time?

I mean, really? One, two, ten, a hundred? Forty-two million?

At some point, it has to stop because I have more ideas than time and energy.

It’s humbling and embarrassing, because you see, I want to do too much.

I hate limits, time constraints, and boundaries.

To quote my Mom, “It gripes me to death.”

(That means it makes her really annoyed.)

Yes, it gripes me to death that I can’t keep up with myself.

To that, my mom would say, “You wear me to a frazzle. When are you going to learn to slow down?”

Never, apparently.

I wear myself to a frazzle, and that too, gripes me to death.

I told Doug the other day that it’s hard being me. (I probably said it in a whiny, tired voice too.)

He didn’t sympathize. He said we all have things that make it hard to be us.

That was a weird sentence, wasn’t it?

But, I like the concept… we all have personality quirks and core characteristics that make us crazy.

It’s not just me, right? Please tell me it’s not just me.

You have your own ways that make you crazy, right?

Is anybody out there? Come on, fess up. Make me feel better.

Is it as hard being you as it is hard being me sometimes?

I was cursed with a “go-go-do-do” personality according to my mother.

That can be good and bad, but right now, for the purpose of this blog, it’s bad.

Very bad.

It leads to neglected blogs, headaches, indecision, and having to have a serious sit-down with my overactive mind.

EBS symptom: after searching everywhere, you find the salt and pepper in the fridge
EBS symptom: after searching everywhere, you find the salt and pepper in the fridge

Imagine the comedy in my conversation with my brain.

Me: Enough already. You are driving me mad. Stop with the ideas.

Brain: I can’t. The ideas are so good. I won’t let them go. You can act on all of them. Trust me. We can do this.

Me: No. Trusting you leads to migraines and endless to-do lists that I could wrap around the globe in long, messy, unkempt strands.

Brain: We’ve got this. Just get up earlier, go to bed later, quit exercising. Forget about healthy eating. Why do you need to file all those papers, pull weeds, do your laundry, talk in coherent sentences anyway? We don’t have time for all that nonsense. We have IDEAS that demand our time and attention.

This could go on forever, this back-and-forth debate with my overactive brain.

Bottom line is a neglected blog means a cluttered mind and a stressed out woman.

Stressed out women need new pink shoes.
Stressed out women need new pink shoes.

A stressed out woman leads to decreased productivity, and probably decreased popularity because people don’t like being around or working with a nonsensical, I-have-another-idea but I-can’t-keep-up-with-myself-woman.

And before I have yet another thought for this blog, I’m going to stop writing.

I am going to think of my ideas like city buses.

They come and they go.

I don’t need to hop on every bus in town and ride it to every random place it’s going.

So if you see me standing at a bus stop waving, you’ll know I’m practicing my new let-it-go approach to life.

And, now you can start singing that Frozen song —Let it Go –because that is what I’m going to do because…

That is one good idea!

 

 

 

 

 

Memoir, Personal, Relationships

How to Survive Breast Cancer

If you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you know I can’t let October slip by without mentioning breast cancer.

 

It has to be done.

 

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and everything is pink.

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Photo credit: Deepatheawesome)

 

 

Everything.

 

Yesterday I went to my favorite bookstore in Buxton, N.C. and talked to my favorite bookstore owner, Gee Gee.

 

She calls me her “sister” because we share a history of breast cancer.

 

It’s good to talk to other breast cancer survivors. It helps me feel normal.

 

Let me clarify.

 

It makes me feel normal in my abnormalities.

 

If I’ve learned anything from Gee Gee and others, it’s that breast cancer is never really over. Yes, the treatments and surgeries can recede into the past but the scars stay forever.

 

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t know myself anymore,” I told her yesterday. She nodded her head, fully understanding what I meant.

 

“Have you read Alice Hoffman’s book about how to survive breast cancer?”

 

IMG_2796

 

I didn’t even know Alice Hoffman had breast cancer. Apparently she kept it a secret, at least to her reading “public.”

 

Gee Gee sold me the book at her cost. “My gift to you. You have to have it,” she said.

 

Gee Gee is a wisp of a woman, about 60 years old, addicted to reading, the sun, and bikinis. She swears she’ll wear a bikini until the day she dies, which won’t be for a long time, because she’s fiercely determined to live.

 

I brought the book home and read it immediately out on the deck while Doug and his handyman friend, Burt, tried to figure out how to get the fireplace ready for the winter.

 

IMG_2794

 

Hoffman’s survival tips are a little different from mine, so, I decided to share my own:

 

  1. Pray. Pray like your life depends on it because it does. Accept the prayers of others and believe they are being heard. Just believing that God hears your prayers and the heartfelt prayers of all your friends and family on your behalf breathes hope into your distraught soul.
  2. Read, study, and cleave to inspiring words. I read the Doctrine and Covenants, one of my church’s books of scripture. It gave me prescriptions for survival and helped me learn how to endure well, and how to feel God near me. I held tight to words like these:”For I will go before [you]. I will be on your right hand and on your left and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
  3. Let people help you in their own unique, wonderful, generous ways. And, see deep into their caring compassionate hearts and be grateful. The outpouring of love and support is life-sustaining.
  4. Ask for help. Realize that there is no quick or easy way out and you will only get through it by asking for help when you need it. I remember when my friend Cindy took Sara and I shopping for Sara’s Homecoming dress. I spent most of the time running into the bathroom because I was so sick while Cindy helped Sara. I never could have made that shopping trip without her.
  5. Have a vision to propel you forward. For me, I envisioned myself at the beach with my family. In the worst moments, I held on to that vision. I imagined the smell of the ocean, the sunshine on my skin, some soft hair starting to grow back on my head, and being out of the chemo fog, fully enjoying my beautiful daughters and sweet husband. My friends supported my vision by giving me beach gifts after every treatment. I came home to find flip-flops one week, a beach bag the next, books, and more to help me keep my vision clear in my mind.
  6. Listen to music that soothes your weary soul.
  7. Cry — loud and hard; and pound your fists on the bed to get out your anger and fear. Then, pray and ask God to carry your burden for a while.
  8. Get outside and move your body. Even if you can only walk to the mailbox, do it. Feel the sun bathe your tender, sore skin, and put one foot in front of the other.  Remind yourself you will not always feel like you are curled up in a tight ball.
  9. Decide what’s important. After a cancer diagnosis, your world suddenly narrows and you can only do what is essential. For me, if I could only do one thing a day, I wanted to go to Annie’s soccer game or voice recital or Sara’s cheerleading competition.  And I wanted to make dinner and eat with my family every night. That’s it. No time or strength for anything else. I watched a lot of Rachel Ray and made many 30-minute meals.
  10. Every time someone asks how you’re doing, say “Great!” Even if they look at you like they don’t recognize you because your face is so puffy and your skins looks jaundice or they see painful sores all over your arms and hands, just smile and act like you are fine. It’s the “fake it til you make it” philosophy, and it works.

 

If these don’t work, visit Gee Gee at the bookstore. She’ll lead you to a great book, call you her sister, and make you feel like she understands exactly what you’re going through. Or pick up Alice Hoffman’s book “Survival Lessons.”

 

IMG_2797

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memoir, Personal, Relationships

Regrets and Do-Overs

While in Utah visiting my family, my sister and I got into a conversation about regrets.

What do I regret? What kinds of things would I do differently if I had a few do-overs?

Life never stops moving forward. Stay focused ...
credit: deeplifequotes)

Do I regret filling yards of surgical tubing with water and spraying an apartment full of poker-playing boys in college? No.

Do I regret filling up my first semester of college with classes like trampoline, tennis and dance?

Or making a spontaneous decision at 9 p.m. at night to load my car with college friends and drive to Las Vegas for the weekend?

Nope.

What I regret are the times I could have been kinder to people.

Valentines-Day-Hearts-Collection-Free-Stock-Photos-Small

I remember a girl in junior high and high school that everyone teased mercilessly because she had acne and a nervous twitch.

As she walked down the halls, people imitated her twitch as she passed them.

I hated walking that same gauntlet as all the boys sat on the hall benches and called me “Little Bob,” after my Dad who was a little league football coach or “Little Snowsie,” after my brother.”

If I hated that kind of attention, how must it have been to be mocked for bad skin and a sudden jerk of the neck I couldn’t control?

Luckily, I can’t remember directly teasing her myself, but maybe I’ve conveniently forgotten that detail because I’m ashamed of myself.

Even if I didn’t personally injure her, I never once stood up for her.

I’m ashamed of myself for the times I could have stepped back from the teasing or stepped in to stop it; for the times I kept my mouth shut when I could have jumped to someone’s defense or when I opened my mouth only to add to the cutting remarks.

Doug shared a story on Facebook from The New York Times Magazine called, “George Saunder’s Advice to Graduates.”

http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/

He wrote about regret he’s carried for  42-years. He regrets that he wasn’t nice to a shy girl who joined his seventh grade class.

She wore blue cat-eye glasses and nervously chewed on her hair.

Students teased her, asking if her hair tasted good, or they simply ignored her and never tried to befriend her.

I don’t know how many kids passed through my life like that. How many did I ignore because they didn’t look or dress right or simply because I had plenty of friends?

Saunder’s said, “Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her. But it still bothers me. So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

That phrase “failures of kindness” hit me hard because that is what I regret most too.

“Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly,” he said.

But, what about the times I didn’t respond sensibly, reservedly or mildly and without even knowing it, may have been downright cruel?

There are no do-overs for those times.

In his graduation speech, he wisely shared that: “as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will be gradually replaced by LOVE. If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment. You won’t really care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.” (One of the best reasons ever for having children!)

His end-of-speech advice was, “Since , according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up! Speed it along. Start right now.”

If I had one do-over, I would definitely follow his advice and err on the side of kindness. I’ve clearly become a much kinder, more selfless person as I’ve aged.

But, if I could dial the years back to my adolescence and do a few things differently, I’d still do the crazy things like hose down the poker-playing boys, master my trampoline moves, and skip off to Vegas; but, I’d also be a lot kinder.

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Friends, Personal, Uncategorized

Writing My Obit

Okay, don’t panic about the headline.

I’m not really writing my obituary, and I’m not dying.

I am, however,  thinking about my eulogy and what I would want somebody to say about me at my funeral.

I know it sounds morbid, but stick with me.

A few days ago, I found out about a tragedy in the family of one of my dearest college friends.

His brother and  sister-in-law died in a car accident while their 16-year-old daughter was driving.

She accidentally went off the edge of the highway and struck a road marker, which caused the car to slide sideways and overturn, coming to rest on its wheels in the desert. She and her 19-year-old sister survived the accident. Their 22-year-old sister was not with them on the trip.

Three young girls without their parents.

I attended the funeral yesterday, bracing myself for the depth of sorrow I would feel.

I came away uplifted, inspired, and wishing I had been best friends with or next door neighbors to this amazing family.

When the oldest daughter stood up to speak, I prayed silently for her to have the strength to get through her remarks.

She stood behind the microphone, looked out at the many friends and family that filled the church, and gave one of the most eloquent talks I’ve ever heard at a funeral.

I couldn’t believe she could stand there so poised and articulate at what had to be the worst moment of her young life.

One of the first quotes she shared was from LDS President Thomas S. Monson, “Choose your love and love your choice.”

English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibb...
English: Thomas S. Monson. Photo by Brian Tibbets (tibbets.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She said that quote summarized her parents’ love for each other.

She spoke of a parents who never missed a game, concert, award ceremony or graduation; a father who made up sappy jokes that kept them all laughing, and a mother that cheered so loud and got so riled at the refs that she nearly got ejected from more than one game.

She remembers her mom laughing all the time, her dad giving what little money he had to someone else when it seemed like they needed it more.

She concluded by saying the best gift her parents ever gave her was their LDS Temple marriage which gave her hope that she and her sisters would be with them again as a family.

DC LDS Temple
DC LDS Temple (Photo credit: waynemillerphotos)

The bishop that presided at the funeral did not know the couple and their children, but he knew their extended family.

He said, “I didn’t need to know this couple because their last name tells me all I need to know about them.”

I left thinking about my own funeral and how I would like it to be just like that one.

I want people to know me by my last name because I have lived up to the honor, character, integrity and legacy of faith that is symbolized in my family name.

I want people to say of me what they said of this couple — that everybody that knew them felt like they were their best friends; and that everyone that ever spent time with them left feeling better about themselves.

I know funerals can be sad and depressing, but they can also be full of hope, strength and perspective.

Even though I didn’t personally know this couple, I know them now from the beautiful tributes I heard about them yesterday.

It made me think about what I want people to say about me when I die.

How can I live to earn the kinds of tributes I heard yesterday? How can I be as good as Kendall and Rebecca?

While it might seem morbid, imagine sitting in the pew at your own funeral.

Are you confident you would like what you might hear?

I want people to say of me what they said about this remarkable, loving couple.

That inspires me to be a better mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend.

How about you?

Memoir, Personal

Let me think…

My day is not complete without a crossword puzzle.

It gets my brain warmed up for the day and makes me believe I won’t get Alzheimer’s.

Sometimes I flip to the crossword puzzle before I even glance at the front page headlines.

Yes, Egypt’s interim leader may have picked a new premier and deputy.

But, what is the theme of today’s crossword puzzle?

Small crossword puzzle image to be used in con...
WikiWordplay.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I get excited on the weekends when I see the fat Sunday newspaper at the end of the driveway because I know the Washington Post magazine is rolled up inside of all that newsprint and the Sunday crossword puzzle is just waiting in their for me — all those empty little boxes waiting to be filled with words.

I love the odd little clues that get my brain spinning. I love trying to figure out the quirky themes.

Today, while I’m flipping to the last page of the Washington Post’s Style section to work on the crossword puzzle, I glance at my horoscope.

Today it says, “Thinking can create as many problems as it solves. There’s a point at which it’s wise to stop with the thoughts and start with the feelings. Don’t let your mind drown out the wisdom in your body and soul.”

After reading that, I think,“I should probably ponder that.”

But, isn’t pondering thinking? And isn’t the point of the horoscope to stop me from thinking so much?

Maybe I shouldn’t proceed to the crossword puzzle because it requires so much thinking.

Maybe I should let myself feel for a few minutes.

But, I can’t ignore the puzzle because then I’ll get Alzheimer’s.

Oh, to stop thinking.

To slow the brain and calm the mind.

To let the wisdom in my body and soul rule and reign.

What a lovely, lofty concept.

I’ve read things about how our bodies store all of our experiences and how they tell the stories of our lives.

Every part of us is written upon our bodies — all that we do and are is written in our bones, hearts and entire physical anatomy.

That must mean there is a lot of wisdom stored in our bodies.

So, if we rely too much on our ever thinking brains, we really do drown out what’s stored in our souls.

I need to tap into all that stored up wisdom.

My horoscope is a good reminder for me today.

Don’t just think, feel.

It comes more naturally to some than others.

I’m in the “others” group —  as in the group that trusts thinking more than feeling.

(That’s why Doug and I are such a good match. He’s a strong feeler and I’m a strong thinker. Together we achieve balance.)

Because of my astrological reading, today, I’m going to be cognizant of this personality trait and focus a little more on letting the wisdom of my body and soul guide me.

For some people, it’s probably a good idea to engage the brain a little more; inject a little practicality and mental acuity into your life.

For me, it’s the opposite.

I am going to be led by my feelings today.

Oh dear, the brain is protesting.

It is shouting, “Stop writing this blog about feelings and get to your long list of things to do today.”

Feelings, are you there?

C’mon. Rise up to where I can perceive you.

Start sending all those sensations and emotions that are supposed to guide me today.

Soul? Are you there?

Speak to me.

Wait a minute…

I think I feel something.

I feel a message floating up like in the movies when the message in a bottle washes up to the shore.

I’m opening the bottle; unrolling the scroll; reading the message.

Feelings are speaking!

Enjoy the moment, they say.

Write as much as you want.

Forget the “to do” list.

And there is more:

Nudge Annie out of bed and ask her what she wants to do today; then do it.

She leaves for Africa in a few days, and you will miss having her home.

Go to www.indiegogo.com an search for project- "help HELP help schools in Uganda" to donate!
Go to http://www.indiegogo.com an search for project- “help HELP help schools in Uganda”

The wisdom of my soul is guiding me.

I feel it!

I am going to savor the time with Annie.

Thank you feelings for bubbling up and clouding my brain’s thinking.

I’m so glad I could feel my way to this conclusion.

I did feel it, right? Or did I think it?

Clearly, I need to keep working on this goal of letting the wisdom in my body and soul guide me.

Now that I’ve finished the crossword puzzle, I can probably take it a little more seriously.