21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 21: Self Love

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What makes me happy? 70 minute reflexology sessions! Got one tonight after having a nice day taking care of myself (went to the gym, practiced handstands and forearm stands, did a little shopping and took myself out to eat a healthy dinner at Pei Wei).

Click here to learn more about reflexology. It’s like massage but different, and I love it!

I think the concept of self love is super important and have been working hard in this area over the past several years. I blog about it under the category Self Care Sunday

Ever heard of the golden rule? You know, ‘treat others as you want to be treated’? I like that idea, but it could use some extension. How about treating ourselves the way we want to be treated? How about being nice to ourselves, doing things we enjoy, doing things that are healthy for us? If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are not really any good to other people. If we aren’t happy and whole being ourselves, we don’t have much to offer others. On the flip side, if we continue through life without making ourselves a priority, it not only affects us and our overall health, it can also get in the way of healthy happy relationships with others.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, please take a few minutes to watch. It’s worth it. Ben Smythe has a way with words and expresses it better than I can. Just watch and listen. Watch it and listen to it a few times. He makes several excellent points and he is hilarious!

Click here – Ben Smythe on Attracting Unfulfilling Relationships

I just want to say thank you to Rachel Brathen for this fun challenge! Some days were easier than others. My favorites that I don’t already do often and want to keep doing more are: get creative, Mother Nature, start a new routine, something new, and sweat. The hardest one for me was rise and shine. I only did it that one morning! My chiropractor says my adrenal glands are not happy and I need more sleep, so for now I won’t be rising too early. Overall, I already try to do some yoga and meditation every day (even if it’s brief), be grateful, say I love you, and get shit done.

I also focus hard every day on self love. It’s what’s helped me grow through a lot of pain and difficult times. Loving myself and taking care of myself has helped me be happy being myself. Once I found some inner peace I think things started to fall into place in my life. I also think taking care of myself is a good role model for my kids.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 19: Random Act of Kindness #yogagirlchallenge

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Happy to support my friend’s project, 31 Days of Urban Agriculture, using her art to educate people about urban farming. Everybody eats food, so this is something everyone can benefit from learning about.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lindsaycurren/31-days-of-urban-agriculture to check out and support the project.

I’m especially interested because of all my issues with food allergies, I try to eat mostly a whole foods diet. I avoid processed foods as much as possible and like the least amount of additives possible in my foods. I’ve had so much food allergy testing and every time I have more positive results.

I am sensitive to/intolerant of:

gluten
corn/sugar
rice
oats
white potatoes and nightshade vegetables
tuna
chicken
beef
pork
walnuts
strawberries
lima beans

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 18: Mother Nature #yogagirlchallenge

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Today I did yoga with bare feet on the grass at a local park. Yes some people saw me, but I didn’t really care. It felt great to sweat, like an outdoor version of hot yoga. I turned off my phone and enjoyed the sounds of nature while I practiced for about 45 minutes followed by about five minutes of meditation under a tree. It was a beautiful blue sky sun shiny day! Loved my view of the pretty trees while I practiced (lower left).

Since I also participate in the #handstand365 challenge, I did my daily handstand and posted that picture too. Besides my feet getting itchy from the grass, it was overall an excellent experience. I’ve never tried doing yoga outside on the grass before. It felt great to do it in a different setting like that.

I am a huge fan of Mother Nature! It started when I did a 95 day semester in the Rockies in 1989. Then, I worked for Greenpeace for a while and became an avid rock climber and mountain biker. I’ve been known to hug trees frequently! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved away from the outdoor adventure sports but not my connection with the environment. I still feel at my best when I am in nature somewhere. The beach is my favorite, but living in Texas that’s not always an option!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Yoga Retreat in Aruba with Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen

Susanne’s World has been under construction for the past nine months or so. My life turned upside down within the past year as I’ve been turning upside down, literally, advancing my yoga practice by doing handstands. The more work I did on myself, the more I realized I wasn’t truly happy. Today I am grateful I had the courage and the strength to recognize that and make the changes that needed to be made. I got divorced, sold and moved out of my house, and started crossing things off my bucket list. I spent last week in Aruba doing a yoga retreat with Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen, connecting with a beautiful new place on the earth, deepening my yoga practice and truly spending every day exactly how I wanted to. I have a new love in my life (an old friend since seventh grade) and couldn’t be happier. He joined me on the yoga retreat, and we had an amazing time together!

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arrival day

I was starstruck when I first saw Rachel and Dennis. She is an internet celebrity, someone who inspires me daily with her pictures, videos, and words. Seeing her in person at the welcome dinner was amazing. I was giddy, hugging her saying, “I love you!” She was so cool and down to earth with a friendly smile. She shares highlights and lowlights from her life on social media, so it was like meeting someone I already knew a little about. We talked a little about her wedding and honeymoon as well as the recent passing of one of her dogs. Out on the beach, there were baby sea turtles in protected areas hatching and making their way to the sea. I wasn’t lucky enough to see one of them, but some other people in our group did and posted videos and pictures. We had a lovely dinner and met new friends, enjoyed the sunset and starry night sky.

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with Rachel and Dennis

This is a typical view from the beach chairs in front of Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, where we stayed. We did our daily handstand in front of our spot that day.  Instead of beach umbrellas, there were beach tiki huts, and the kind staff at the resort set up the chairs and brought drinks.   Eagle Beach is the widest beach on the island of Aruba, and our resort didn’t have any kids activities, so it was peaceful and serene.   There was a relatively long walk on the white sands until you hit the turquoise waters due to the wideness of the beach.  The sand was white and didn’t get too hot.  The color of the water was something I’ve never seen before.  Bright turquoise is the best description I can muster.  There were gentle waves and plenty of room to swim and float around.  A line of buoys contained the swimming area.  I swam out there and back a few times. The water got too deep to stand right away so it was fun to take a little swim.

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handstands on the beach

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typical view from my beach chair

We had two Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) yoga lessons on Palm Beach near the high rise hotels. It was the more touristy and more crowded part of the island, but the water was still amazing! It was waist deep and calm. We used special boards made for doing yoga (Boga boards). They were wide and rounded on the ends and had a sticky yoga mat on the top. Doing yoga on the water is especially challenging because the stability of the floor is no longer there. You must release control to your surroundings and adjust accordingly. It works all the small muscles of your core and other places in your body in ways you normally don’t use them. The warrior series was the hardest of all the poses we did. Once one person fell, it was like a domino effect because the boards were so close together. Everybody fell in the water at some point or another, and I loved the metaphor with real life. When you have difficulty and fall down, laugh, smile, fall, and get back on the board.  The other life skill it helps develop is focusing on the moment.  If you let your mind wander and lose your focus, it’s pretty easy to fall off the board, so it really required being in the present moment.

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Rachel teaching SUP yoga class #1

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beautiful ocean

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excited to try SUP yoga for the first time

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SUP yoga class #1 in Palm Beach, Aruba

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headstands on the Boga boards

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Our group to an exciting hike on the north shore of Aruba to a natural pool.  It was located in the Arikok National Park, a large undeveloped area with a desert landscape, rocky trails to hike, bike, ride horses and four wheel drive vehicles.   There were beautiful ocotillo and other kinds of cactii, wild goats, and a varied terrain much different than the beachy areas.   Along the hike, we stopped to play at a beach where the waves are forced between rocky outcroppings.  Rachel said we had about ten minutes to play, so I jumped right in!   Unlike the waters in Eagle and Palm Beaches, these waters were rough. The waves were big, and I enjoyed body surfing in the crashing water.  The water took my hair tie and one of my earrings; I threw the other earring into the ocean as an offering.  I was exhilerated and felt that I could have stayed there longer to play!

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The natural pool had rocky outcroppings, and the water from the waves crashed over and formed the pool.  It was so cool.  There was another smaller pool up a little higher than this one. It felt like a hot tub.  Saw lots of little crabs camoflauged on some vegetation growing on the rocks.  I brought my goggles and dived under the water to see many tropical fish teeming in the waters. You can see a wind farm in the distance.    I climbed up and sat to watch the ocean for a bit, contemplating its vastness and its incredible power.  The sun was shining, and the wind was blowing.  What an amazing place and an amazing moment!

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My man taking it all in..

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sunset in Aruba

That night, we had a restorative yin yoga session.  This was the magical view as I walked into class.  Everybody was tired from an active day.  Yin yoga is calming and relaxing.  We hold poses for longer (up to five or six minutes) deepening the stretch to the connective tissues.  In contrast to vinyasa flow where movements are tied to each breath and we generate heat in the body, a yin practice is cooling and still.  The hardest pose we did (for me) was frog pose, and we held it for a while.  Rachel talked about how we hold of lot of tension in our hips and frog pose helps to release it.  We did heart openers after that to release whatever emotional tension arised.  It’s a soft practice that feels like a whole other place when it’s over.  Holding hands with my man during savasana made the experience even more magical.

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Yin Yoga class

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handstand technique help from Rachel

Rachel taught us a lot about yoga including workshops on handstands, headstands, forearm stands, arm balances, and paid special attention to teaching us proper technique and alignment for chatarunga to upward facing dog to downward facing dog.  There were two yin yoga sessions, and the rest of them were intense and challenging. Dennis taught a class too, and it was the hardest class I’ve done in a long time!  We worked hard on our core strength as it’s a fundamental for many advanced skills.  I was thrilled to get some personal attention from her and am working on the pointers she gave me.  For example, when we have hands down on the ground they should be firmly planted with the most pressure on the thumb knuckle and first two finger knuckles.  When we get tired, we tend to shift weight to the outsides of our hands causing the thumbs to curl instead of remain intact on the mat.  I never  noticed I did that before. She said it’s a common mistake. It’s something I really pay attention to now.  I also learned alot about how to do chatarunga and upward facing dog properly.  I didn’t know to shift forwards a bit from plank so when you drop into chatarunga your elbows can stay above the wrists and make a ninety degree angle.  Then, shifting backwards before going into upward facing dog allows the shoulders to stay above the wrists.  I think I’ve been doing those two poses slightly wrong all along.   I tried a forearm stand for the first time ever.  It was not solid at all, so I think I will follow Rachel’s advice to continue strengthening and preparing for the pose by practicing dolphin (downward facing dog on the forearms)  more often.  The arm balance workshop was my favorite because I’ve been wondering how to get into those poses for a while now, and Rachel gave us clear instructions and demonstrations.  Now they make sense to me, and I can work them into my practice more often.  I got a footprint sized bruise on my upper arm from working so hard in class!  I was able to try all the arm balances she taught us but still have a lot of work to do.

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bruise from arm balance workshop

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handstand workshop with partner work

Below are three links to videos from the handstand workshop.



 

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Rachel and Ringo teaching class

 

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Rachel and Ringo

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handstands at the go kart track

We met a lovely couple from Norway and enjoyed many good times eating, drinking, and laughing during our retreat.  They had an awesome idea to go to the go kart track for racing.  It’s something I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing, but I am so glad we went!  My man won the race, lapping me three times, as he is a seasoned motorcycle racer.  I didn’t mind coming in last place as I know racing is not my forte, but it sure was fun to do.  Despite the hot sun and the sweaty helmet, I was smiling and laughing my way around the track.  After we were done we thought it was a good spot for a handstand picture.

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go karting with our new friends from Norway

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al fresco dining at Machebo Beach Resort & Spa, Aruba

We took advantage of the all-inclusive meal option at the resort and enjoyed al fresco dining every day. Breakfast and dinner were at this restaurant by the pool, and lunches were at the cafe in the forefront of the picture. The views and the service were outstanding. Birds and iguanas joined us for breakfast every day, and the moon and stars twinkled over head during poolside dinners at night. The staff at the resort were incredibly warm and friendly. It’s a smaller, two story, hotel and I really enjoyed the personal attention we got during our stay. I have lots of food allergies, and I was impressed by their ability to accomodate my needs. In addition there were healthy fruit and vegetable based smoothies available every morning. Yum! We went out to dinner with the group once, visiting Rachel and Dennis’s favorite restaurant in town called Yemanja. It was a wood fired grill featuring delicious seafood, steaks, and vegetarian/vegan food. I got a superfood salad packed with greens, veggies, berries, and seeds and a ribeye steak with scallops on top.

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iguanas by the pool

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Rachel and Dennis

Our group took a sailing and snorkeling trip on a party catamaran from Palm Beach. What a fun activity! I don’t drink liquor except for (good) tequila, so it wasn’t a drinking day for me but for everybody else it was. We sailed up the shore and then stopped to snorkle first at a place right off the beach, not too deep. I snorkeled to the thore then right then left and back to the boat. It was amazing! I think I saw a baraccuda. I swam back toward the shore and then noticed the boat was raising the ladder. I guess I didn’t hear them blow the horn, so I swam back to the boat knowing they wouldn’t leave without me and rejoined the group. Others stayed on the boat to play on the water slide and jump off the side.

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sailing and snorkeling trip

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loving the view

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loving the view

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all smiles swith Dennis on the catamaran

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happy people

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the view off the back of the boat

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Rachel and some of the ladies in our group

We sailed some more and then stopped to snorkle in sixty foot deep waters. There were different kinds of fish in that deeper water, and I thought it was interesting there were layers of different schools of fish in the waters. Some of them stayed low while others were higher up. I dived down a few times as far as I could (holding my ears so the pressure didn’t hurt) and then floated for a few seconds in awe as I was surrounded by schools of bright and beautiful fish. How cool to be in their world just for a few seconds. I ventured out a litte farther and then lost sight of any fish, so I came back toward the boat more this time.

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our group after sailing/snorkeling trip

Here we all are, happy and high on life after the fun outing.

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our group after the sail/snorkel trip

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On the second day of SUP yoga, I wasn’t feeling too well. I was a little seasick after not having enough sleep and having a little too much fun the night before. To make things more challenging, I also got the orange board…the board that whoever is last and needs a board uses. The orange board is narrower and pointier than the other blue Boga boards. I took a “I’m a rock star. I can do this.” attitude and did my best. It sure was harder than the blue board I used during the first class!

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planking on the Boga board

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downward facing dog with hip opener

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IMG_4499.JPGSUP yoga class #2 in Palm Beach, Aruba

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heart/chest opener

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side plank

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finding balance

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chair pose

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had so many laughs with our Norweigan friends

We made new friends with people from all over the world. In addition to meeting other americans (Texas, Virginia, California, Washington, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, New Jersey), we met people from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Brazil,and Aruba. Our new friends from Sweden even brought their teenage daughter along.

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new friend from Sweden

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until next time

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thank you Rachel!

Since I wasn’t feeling well after SUP yoga class #2, I had to say goodbye to Rachel there on the beach. The whole group was walking down to a beach bar to continue the fun, and my flight was early the next morning. I thanked her for everything she taught me that week and for inspiring me. I couldn’t stop hugging her, just one more! My heart was full of love and gratitude. Just for fun, I asked if we could take the moment to get a handstand picture together. It was my last chance until who knows when. She happily obliged and went upside down waiting patiently for me to try and try again to join her long enough for a picture. She was so patient, hanging out in a beautiful handstand encouraging me saying, “you got it Susanne.” She right, I got it. Thank you Rachel!

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in the presence of greatness

 

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sunrise at the airport – departure day

This is a pictue of the sunrise at the airport when I was leaving. No filter, no hi definition enhancement. Just pure Aruba bliss. I am so grateful for my time there and can’t wait until the next time I can visit. Will have to stay for two weeks next time!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

 

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Reverse Bucket List

Here’s a list of 40 things I did by age 40 (a reverse bucket list):

1. Played Suzuki violin at Wolf Trap, VA and the Kennedy center in DC.
2. Met President Carter.
3. Met Jewel.
4. Got my masters degree (4.0 GPA).
5. Had three babies.
6. Married twice. (Divorced once).
7. completed a 95 day semester on the Rockies.
8. Assisted a midwife at approximately thirty home-births.
9. Got arrested for hanging off the Triboro bridge in NYC to protest ocean dumping for Greenpeace.
10. Edited and self-published my dad’s book for him after he died.
11. Travelled to Europe (Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam).
12. Travelled to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii).
13. Got licensed to teach all subjects 4-8 and math 8-12.
14. Started my own math tutoring business.
15. Worked as a classroom teacher for eight years.
16. Went rock climbing all over (VA, WV, WY, CO, AZ).
17. Had sixteen surgeries.
18. Spent two winters studying and teaching in Yellowstone National Park.
19. Kayaked around Isla Espiritu Santo in Baja. (Spent a month there).
20. Played college soccer freshman and sophomore years.
21. Spent a month above tree line in Colorado learning about alpine ecology.
22. Saw the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band many times.
23. Spent a month living on a hippie commune in Northern California.
24. Started writing a blog.
25. Studied French for six years.
26. Learned to play the guitar.
27. Wrote my first guitar solo.
28. Learned how to do yoga.
29. Lived outdoors in Colorado for a year and half.
30. Was featured in a newspaper for a school project.
31. Wrote nineteen episodes of fiction.
32. Survived a fall/slide all the way down a frozen ski run on Mt Rose, NV.
33. Did gymnastics for eight years.
34. Went on a first date to Paris, France.
35. Drove across the country a few times.
36. Saw over sixty live concerts.
37. Hung a banner from a building for Greenpeace in Louisiana (and didn’t get arrested).
38. Grew up without a father.
39. Completed a sprint distance triathlon.
40. Went to Disneyland and Disneyworld.

What does your reverse bucket list look like?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

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11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?

climbing

Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.

Perot museum: Animals Inside Out

Check out these pictures from the Animals: Inside Out exhibit at the Perot Museum in Dallas, Texas.  It’s a special exhibit with various animals including humans after going through a process called ‘plastination.’  Bodies are preserved and turned into plastic, making it possible to see anatomy of living things like never before.  It was a fascinating experience to see the complex body systems that make up the diversity of life!20131028-141439.jpg

Above is a picture of an octupus.  Below is the reflection of its underside.20131028-141516.jpg

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Close-up of the eye of a giant squid. Beautiful, I think!20131028-143200.jpg

Two giant squids with tentacles entwined.20131028-143218.jpg

A Mako shark, the fastest in the world.  A student volunteer said they can swim up to 88 miles an hour (that we know of).  What a fun volunteer job, working at a nature and science museum.20131028-143308.jpgA

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This is a camel, and its neck and head have been sliced into three sections to show different levels of its anatomy.  It was quite large. I’ve never seen a camel in real life before.20131028-143702.jpg

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This is the blood vessel network in a dog!  How did they do that?  It’s obviously dyed red for effect.20131028-143749.jpg

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I stopped and looked at the human leg for a long time, as well as the entire human body.  I’ve seen human anatomy in books, but that’s it.  My legs are frequently sore, stiff, and painful after seven surgeries on the right and one on the left. So, I found it fascinating to look at the musculature and try to ascertain which ones I feel aching from time to time.  20131030-130738.jpg

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20131028-143638.jpgThis was amazing, a cat’s nervous system!  How did they take it out of its body intact like that?  I assume our nervous systems look similar.  Mind completely blown!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Beach Week 2013

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This is the view from our condo in Destin, Florida this summer. It’s the fourth time we’ve rented at the same place (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013). Every room has an ocean view; usually we stay up higher on the tenth floor, but this year we got a better rate on the third floor. We were right above the pool and bar this time. The pool connects to a skywalk that leads to the beach. It’s so nice to step out on the balcony, see the sea, and breathe in the ocean air.

20130719-095630.jpgMy first day on the beach was quite exciting.  I was standing in these shallow waters above and playing frisbee with my husband and son.  They were in foot deep water, and I was up to my waist.  My husband started yelling, “Susanne, shark!” and pointing at a shadow under the water coming right at me.  Sure enough it was a shark. It looked like a juvenile, possibly a bull shark about five feet long and kind of skinny swimming back and forth sideways as it came over to investigate me.  A million thoughts raced through my mind in that instant, and I intuitively knew I had no chance of getting out of the water faster than it would reach me.  So, I froze and stood still.  I raised my hands out of instinct as if to say “I surrender” and just stood still while it came right up to me.  All I could say was, “what do I do?”    It came right up to me and then turned and proceeded down the shore.  That’s when I got out of the water and people were chasing it down the beach, myself included, yelling “shark!” alerting other people to get out of the water.  Luckily, it wasn’t hungry for humans that day.

The experience reminded me that I’d previously dreamed about a shadow under the water that turned into a shark.  In my dream, it came right at me and was so close I could see its face and teeth.  Just like in real life, in my dream it swam up to me and then went around me and kept swimming.  I wonder if that was a coincidence or a premonition?

Later that week, we heard from other tourists that people saw a hammerhead shark in the waves too.  We talked to some locals about the shark sightings, and they said because it was raining for about ten days before we got there, the water was murkier.  Sharks have bad eyesight, so when that happens, they are forced to come closer to shore to look for food.  They thought the shark coming up to people and then swimming away was its way of saying, “get out of here!”  I know that every time we get in the ocean, we are entering their habitat, so we can’t really complain about seeing them. Although, I am not used to seeing them at all much less in such shallow water.  It was scary but exciting, and thankfully nothing happened.  We’ve only seen them once before when we were in South Padre Island in Texas.  The lifeguards there said they are very common to see there.

20130721-193625.jpgThis is a panoramic view of the oceanfront in front of our condo.  I’m in love with the sugary, white sands and the turquoise waters.  As soon as my feet hit the hot sand, my breath slows and my worries start to fade away.  I love sitting in the beach chair in the sun and shade and just listening to the sound of the ocean and feeling the salty breeze.  It’s so peaceful and soothing to my soul.

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20130721-193850.jpgThis is a picture of the bridge leading to Destin Harbor from Okaloosa Island, taken from Harry T’s restaurant on the harbor.  We go there every year and visit with my friend who lives nearby.  We are friends from Virginia.  I live in Texas now, and she lives in Florida now, so we only get to see each other during beach vacations.

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20130721-194038.jpgWe took a seashelling cruise and got to see some dolphins in the water near Destin Harbor.  I’ve seen them before, but I never tire of it.  They are so beautiful and playful in the water.  It’s amazing to come so close to wild animals in their natural habitats.  I’m happy my kids have been able to see them a few times already in their lives.

20130721-194104.jpgIt rained one day while we were there.  Of course it was disappointing because we lost a day on the beach.  But, all was not lost as we did go down to the pool and hot tub.  Even in the rain, it felt wonderfully refreshing, and it still felt like vacation.  I tried to think of the last time I sat in an outdoor hot tub.  I think it was all the way back to 1989 when I was in Aspen, Colorado.  That time, it was snowing outside as I enjoyed the hot tub!  The beach was still quite beautiful in the rain, just a different kind of beauty.

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20130721-194231.jpgThis is a picture of me and my husband taken on the seashelling boat.  I think this is the third year we’ve done this activity, and we really enjoy it. It’s a short boat ride over to another smaller island where they anchor the boat and then people wade through the shallow waters collecting seashells.  The water was murky this year because of the rain, but we still found many beautiful shells.  And I’ve noticed the shells change from year to year!  I use them to decorate my house and have also made picture frames with them.  It’s a very family friendly activity and it’s not very expensive either.

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20130721-194330.jpgThe sunset was gorgeous the night we were on the boat.  First the sky filled with pastel hues reflected in the water. As the sun went down the sky turned more red and pink, and the reflection in the water was so picturesque!  These kinds of scenes inspire me to paint.

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20130721-194415.jpgThese are some of the shells we collected this year.  The big brown spiral one is my favorite.  In fact, I love all the spiral shaped ones the best, but they are all so different and complex it’s hard to pick favorites.  My son asked how seashells are made, and I thought that was an excellent question.  I looked it up and read a bunch about exoskeletons and such.  Being a math person, I also find it amazing that the spiral shape is so commonly found in most of these designs.  It’s just another example of form and pattern in nature.  Spirals represent the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio and are found all over the natural world including pineapples, pine cones, sunflowers etc.

20130721-194441.jpgMy husband and kids took a private fishing trip too.  I’m not into fishing, so I didn’t go with them.  I used the time to have lunch with my girlfriend again and lounged on the beach all day!  I included this picture because it reminds me of a line from one of my favorite songs, “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty.  “You belong among the wildflowers. You belong in a boat out at sea. Sail away, kill off all the hours. You belong somewhere you feel free.”  I feel free and inspired when I’m in nature, whether it’s on the water or in the mountains.  I would have loved to have gone on the boat with them if they didn’t have to do all the killing of the fish parts!

20130721-194504.jpgOn our last night there, my daughter and I took some fun pictures on the beach.  She did a bunch of dance moves, and I did some yoga moves.  This one is called ‘tree’ and it was difficult to balance with my foot in the sand like that.  I love doing yoga because while it’s challenging it’s also gentle on my body.  I’ve had five surgeries on my right knee and two on my right ankle, so I don’t do many of the physical activities I used to enjoy.  Doing yoga helps me stretch, strengthen, balance, and center.  I feel calm and positive after I do yoga.  One day, I would love to take my yoga mat down to the beach and practice there!  I did bring my yoga mat on vacation and rolled it out in our master bedroom.  It was a smart idea, because without it I would have done far less of it.

20130721-194520.jpgThis was the last picture I took right before we got in the car to drive back to Texas.  I said ‘thank you’ to the sea for all the gifts we received that week and spent several minutes with my eyes closed cherishing the feeling of being there.  The ocean is my happy place, and I try to keep that centered feeling throughout the rest of the year.  It’s too bad beach week only comes once a year, but we do have to work to make a living.  Traveling to other places is so refreshing though.  When we get home to our lovely home, it’s like having a whole different perspective after being in a different place for a while.  One day, I hope to be able to retire close to the ocean so I can grow old in a place I love!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 27 Lowlight

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This is a picture I took in west Texas on my way from Dallas to Lubbock. It’s a pretty flat and boring drive most of the time, but after a few hours, the landscape starts to change and then there are miles of wind farms. I’d never seen them at night before and thought they fit this prompt very nicely. At night, the wind turbines are illuminated, and it creates and interesting landscape, much different than they look during the day. I believe wind power is an important component in the clean energy movement and am happy that Texas is home to many wind farms.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 24 Sunset

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This is a panoramic picture of the sunset I took with my iPhone. Texas has the most beautiful sunsets, and I am frequently snapping pictures and exclaiming, “look how pretty the sky is!” to my friends and family. They kind of roll their eyes and try to have patience for me to snap my pictures with enthusiasm. I don’t really care. I love sunsets, and I love natural beauty. In fact, the sunsets are one of my favorite things about living in Texas. The land is pretty flat where I live, so the sky is big! Every night, the sky is alive with color and form. This one isn’t the most colorful or the picture with the most shapes, but in general the overall impression of the sky was breathtaking. It makes me feel small in this universe.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!