Friday, October 6, 2017

30-Day Meditation Challenge

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Meditation is the action or practice of meditating.

Thank you Merium-Webster for that clarification. There is something about meditation that seems really vague and difficult to grasp. We are always looking for that zen moment where everything is right in the world. I don't know about you, but that just doesn't happen all the time. When we do not receive that moment of clarity while meditating, we assume we are doing something wrong.

We are not.

Meditation is simply a moment of contemplation. It gives you a chance to stop and think about your day and what you are hoping to receive from it. This creates a perfect opportunity to set an intention and deliberate on what to do next to fulfill that purpose. It is a time for reflection and musing and there is no wrong way to meditate.

For me, meditation isn't sitting and visualizing myself as a tree or the ocean. And please don't tell me to completely clear my mind of all thoughts, that is impossible. Focusing on breath does work for me, but partly because I perpetually forget to breathe all the time.

The act of meditating is a chance for me to have a little talk with myself without any judgement. It is when I check in and decide if what I'm doing is really what I want to be doing in this moment and in life. When something is bothering me, meditating helps me block out the distractions to determine what the source is so I can actually do something decisive about it.

The Challenge

I am beginning a self-established 30-day mediation challenge on Instagram. I choose that platform because it would make me determine my words and thoughts carefully since there isn't room for extended commentary for me to ramble on, like I am now. Also, I wanted to add a visual component to the project.

Meditation is a very personal thing. Even when sitting with others, the journey is within you. I want to be able to share some visual stimulation with my thoughts. Some of it is going to get creative because I'm still not even entirely sure what it will become by the end. That's also the fun of it; I enjoy the expedition of creative practices.

21-Day Meditation challenge with Light Watkins, hosted by Wanderlust TV

In the middle of my 30 days of meditation, I am going to join Light Watkins with Wanderlust TV for a 21-day meditation challenge. I am excited to see what these guided meditations will add to my own practice. In the meantime, I want to get started exploring what mediation means to me.

I am really excited about this challenge. It began yesterday on my Instagram account @ladyanda827. I look forward to my commitment for a daily meditation practice and the accountability to follow through on it.

If you find satisfaction in meditation, or would like to, I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions and ideas!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2017: September 26

Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center

Three years ago, a courageous woman named Heather Von St. James contacted me with the intention to raise awareness for Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. I wrote about her story and this vicious form of cancer in an article called Mesothelioma Awareness Day: September 26, 2014.

Just this past week, I was contacted by another Mesothelioma patient named Virgil Anderson, who continues to live with the affects from this disease. He and many others seek to raise awareness for this mostly preventable illness.

Today, September 26, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which is nationally recognized by the U.S. government since 2004. The main goals of this campaign are to support those living with Mesothelioma, raise money to research a cure and warn the public of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Mesothelioma is a rare, but vicious form of cancer most often caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral formerly used for making insulation and fireproof materials. The trouble with this textile is that it is made up of small fibers, which can come loose and get into the air. As you breathe in these particles, they get lodged into the tissues of your body, specifically impacting the thin membrane that protects your lungs, heart and abdominal organs.

This aggressive disease is tricky because of the long latency period of up to fifty years between the time of asbestos exposure and when the symptoms begin to appear. Medical science has come a long way to understanding and increasing ways to improve the lives of those diagnosed, but there is still no cure for asbestos illnesses.

Early diagnosis is key in this aggressive cancer. It is very important to be aware of the early signs and seek medical attention. Knowing whether you have come in contact with asbestos at any point in your life, even second-hand, will help medical practitioners reach an accurate diagnosis. Specific tests such as CT scans and collecting tissue samples can help determine Mesothelioma apart from other diseases.

Mesothelioma symptoms vary by type, but common symptoms include fatigue and weight loss. The location of the original tumor determines much of the additional symptoms. For example pleural mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lungs, symptoms include difficult breathing and respiratory system breakdown. Whereas peritoneal mesothelioma affect the abdomen and digestion. For more information about specific symptoms for various types of Mesothelioma visit

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

We live in a different world now that we know and understand the ramifications of using asbestos materials. There are strict regulations in place by the federal government to protect from this type of infection; however, the material itself is not banned. Awareness is the key to avoid asbestos exposure by taking proper safety precautions.

Even with prevention in place, it is important for those working in technical fields such as construction workers, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and HVAC technicians. There are precautions, equipment and training that allows work around asbestos to be a safe environment, but you must know about it and follow through completely on the procedures.  Even if you do not handle asbestos directly, you could be exposed by being in the work environment. Always be aware of the materials and safety procedures being used on a job site.

Work in skill trades is rewarding and can provide an brilliant future, but it important to keep yourself safe. If you are working on a job site and question the safety of your environment, do not be afraid to speak out to your boss or contact OSHA to make sure safety regulations are properly met. Though the risks of asbestos exposure is much lower now than ever, being aware of your environment is key to enjoying a long, healthy life.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

There are many things you can do to raise awareness today: 

  • Wear blue in support of those living with this disease 
  • Start conversations to bring awareness to the issue. 
  • Participate in events to spread awareness 
  • Donate money to a mesothelioma research initiative
  • Write to your legislators, at the federal and state level, to encourage greater asbestos restrictions or even an outright ban
  • Share facts and information online and through social media
  • If you are directly affected, share you story
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is a perfect chance to spread awareness about the danger of asbestos exposure and increase awareness for early diagnosis. It is also an opportunity for people to come together in support of those affected by the disease and those looking for a cure. 

Additional Links:
General information
Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
Asbestos Safety Advice for Tech Students

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Don't Limit Your Dreams

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

When I was in college, I had this dream. I wanted to be a writer or a journalist and live in a city above a storefront. I wanted to be able to write in coffee shops and meet cool people. It was an idle dream because I didn't think it would ever happen; nonetheless, it was my dream and it made me happy just thinking about it.

We lived in Seattle for about two years before I looked up from my day to day scramble and remembered this dream from another lifetime. Here I was living in the heart of Seattle, a pretty big city by anyone's standards, and finally realized this is exactly where I want to be.

I write in coffee shops and know some pretty cool people. We didn't live over a storefront, but we did live in an apartment right across from a park that stretched along the Puget Sound. I didn't even know to wish for that part of it. Additionally, the bar on the corner was a hot spot for locals and had some pretty good pizza to boot.

It makes me think that we spend so much time wishing and hoping for things to happen, and then when they do, we don't appreciate it. Sometimes, we don't even notice.

My dream of living and writing in the city came from a different life than I ended up living. I thought that I would be single and move to New York. Once I met my husband and we settled down to have kids, I put those silly dreams away.

Only to find out, that even when circumstances change, there is something inside of us that still yearns for that simple dream. I had put limits on my dream so I no longer believed it could come true. Instead, it was I was married with a daughter that we moved to Seattle. Turns out, there is no time limit on dreams, nor is there only one way for them to come true.

I was so busy looking at my current dream of publishing a novel that I forgot the dream that got me here. To live and write in the city is a wonderful experience. I am thankful that I finally looked up to appreciate it. Now I will always know that my dreams can come true - because many already have.

You are never to old to dream. You are never to late to start something new. Time keeps moving forward whether you are ready or not. Don't close yourself off to new opportunities or fresh ideas.

Take some time to think about the dreams you have had in the past. Does anything you thought you wanted look familiar around you? Don't stop at the obvious, but the subtle as well.

Think about the dreams you have now. How can you bring those dreams alive around you?

Monday, September 18, 2017

You Can Always Begin Again

It's been a couple years since I've blogged consistently. I have to admit, I really missed it.

I stopped for a myriad of reasons. The biggest one being our move from South Carolina to Seattle. It was a great change for us and we are still here in Washington and loving it. Nonetheless, a lot of things changed during that time including our daily routine and my perceptive on life.

Once I stopped blogging, I had a really hard time getting started again. Even though I really enjoyed the process, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say anymore. The majority of my subject matter changed greatly, and I couldn't really figure out where to go next or what I wanted to say anymore. I started to develop a different style of blog, but it never really got off the ground. I got so frustrated, I just stopped.

I realize now that I put way too much pressure on myself. For something that was supposed to be inspiring and enjoyable, it became stressful and draining. Still, I missed it.

It was time to regroup and focus on why I enjoy writing to begin with. At the end of the day words inspire me. I write to understand and make sense of what is happening around me. No wonder I've felt so our of sync the last year or so.

I decided it is not too late, I can begin again.

The more I think about what I love to do and what I want to say, I realize that all I really want is a conversation. I don't need the intensity of having it all planned out, I just want to be able freely express myself.

I really enjoy learning and studying new ideas. I like to explore my surroundings and try to understand a little bit more about myself, others and the world around me. I want to be able to share thoughts and ideas see where they take me.

I am currently writing a book, piecing together a memoir project with a friend's grandmother, practicing yoga, learning to cook with fresh and seasonal ingredients, continuously crafting and studying all kinds of random elements and still doing that whole wife and mother thing too. Life is busy and crazy all the time. writing in its own way helps me keep what little sanity I have left. It also helps to organize my thoughts and respond to those around me more confidently.

I'm not sure exactly where this new adventure is going to go, but I'm excited to get started.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Small Demonstration of Love

photo credit

“She hugged her arms around his chest and leaned her head into his shoulder. She did this every night, and like most small demonstrations of love, it had a large impact. Dor felt a surge of calm whenever she held him, like being wrapped in a blanket, and he knew no one else would ever love or understand him the way she did. He nestled his face into her long dark hair, and he breathed a way he never breathed except when he was with her.”