Thursday, March 29, 2012

Take a Look at this Video!

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Guys, take a look at Peter Saul's talk about dying and the two questions all of us should ask to make sure our preferences are known!

Greetings, Again, and Here's to Grandma Layton

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I apologize for not writing. It's not that I haven't thought of writing; in fact, I must have said at least once a day, "Now that would be a good blog topic!"

My "break" between assignments was not quite a break. I'm not complaining; I enjoyed every minute, even the 2,000+ mile drive with my very caring brother. I enjoyed visiting most of my immediate family.  I spent almost a week with mom (thank you!) stripping paint off 83 year old window trim in "the Nest" I am renovating (with twinnie). For those of you who like to renovate, I find a heat gun does a nice, quick job over chemical stripper.

I've had quite a few people say to me, "Why would you leave California for Kansas?"

1) My family is within driving distance, and I love them!! If they have asked me to stay closer for a bit, I have the ability to do that.
2) There are little gifts to being somewhere new and (yes) interesting; after all,
3) Every place can  be interesting! It's all in your mindset.

Speaking of little gifts, I have to share this bit of something interesting.

(raise your hand if you know of this amazing lady)

Grandma Layton!

She lived near where I am assigned.  I learned about her during my 12- week psychosocial clinical in OT school. If you haven't encountered her, she is someone new and admirable from which to learn. Check her out:

Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton was a lady who battled an adulthood of depression until she took a contour drawing class at her local college (at the age of 68!) Contour drawing literally means "drawing the outline."

She learned to draw herself using a "blind" technique by looking in a mirror and drawing the outline of herself without looking at the paper much. She branched out to express her opinions about social issues as she did her self-portraits.

For example:


Tender Loving Care (for the dying)

...and she healed herself through her art.   What an amazing and inspiring woman. Her works are found in over 200 museums.

One of my favorite Grandma Layton pieces is a drawing of her representation of someone who has had a stroke. This picture is worth a thousand words.

She drew many pieces, and you can check them out on her website. I encourage you to read about her. She is a great example of someone who found a way of coping with her illness and inspiring people along her path.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More Than Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh No! Storms in Kansas...

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I'm in Kansas...

in Spring...

Kansas Spring Storm, March 28, 2012

and reliving childhood fears of taking cover during tornado weather!!

I had forgotten (during the length of my storm-free 18 months in California) the dreadful, yet exciting, feeling of anticipating the outcome of developing storm clouds in the sky.

This evening, I went to the pharmacy to ask for some labeled medication bottles to practice medication management with my patients prior to discharging home. When I walked out, voila! The photo above.


I picked up dinner and headed to my new "home." The clouds continued to evolve into different shapes.

Please don't let that tail turn into a funnel!!

I grew up on a farm without a basement. We only had a detached cellar that was used to store canned goods and harvested vegetables in the cool climate underground. The difficulty of taking shelter in there was that there was an occasional black snake that squeezed its way through two loose bricks.

My two greatest fears in one moment - a funnel cloud and a black snake. I don't know which was worse.

The funnel cloud won the "fear" category. When black clouds began to swirl, I would pack my aqua blue floral suitcase (thanks, Grandma), and set it by the back door of the mudroom. Change of clothes, underwear and a pair of socks. Just in case.

Tonight, I made my way around the building in which I am renting to find the door to the basement. I stuck the key in the door and turned.

Didn't turn. Won't open.

The key won't work.


I am on top of a hill. During a storm in Kansas!

Welcome back to the Midwest!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Little Lessons Everywhere

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I've never been one to take sedentary breaks.

I've been spending 'tween-assignments time gardening on the farm with my folks, visiting friends and cycling with my sisters (we've created a team and are training for the MS 150 in September to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.)

Yesterday, as I was helping mom do some cleaning, I ran across a little booklet my aunt had sent her. It was hidden between some Martha Stewart cooking magazines:

98 Things A Woman Should Do in Her Lifetime by Rebekah Shardy.

I really loved 89 and 90...

89: Eschew a job for a career.

90: Eschew a career for a life.

The traveling gig has allowed me to do just that. I have always known this is my calling. However, my life shifted when I left permanent employment and hit the road. "Traveling" has allowed me to live a fuller life and to enjoy more people and places than I had imagined.

I hope each of you today take a moment to think about life. Is this life the one you want? If it is, BRAVO. If it isn't, what small steps can you take to make it what you envisioned it to be?

It's never too late!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Looking Toward the New Assignment

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Well, folks, I was so busy packing and spending time with loved ones in Northern Cal that I wasn't able to write and tell you where I am headed next....this is a vast departure from the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean, but mind you, it has a charm all its own...

and I will fully explore it as I have explored the other places I have been!

I am headed to Kansas.

What I have found initially about this area is that it is a town named for two Indian tribes and the setting for an exciting battle between the "free-staters" (abolitionists) and pro-slavery folks during the Civil War. I am excited to learn more about the history of this area!!

In the meantime, I am unpacking this:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Almost Halfway Through a Very Long Drive

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Well, the northern California terrain is morphing into


and UTAH

tomorrow, Wyoming....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Packing and Pondering

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Okay, I'm doing more than packing and pondering. I'm crying in between.

Have you ever known
that the change
you're preparing for
is a good one,
yet you're still broken up
about it?

That's how I feel tonight. I know I said this last time I moved assignments, but I've loved this place.  I've met great people. I've experienced so many new things! I am aching as I prepare to leave, especially when I round the corner of my street to face west and I find myself looking straight at the Pacific Ocean.

Tonight, I've been contacted by Monty, who is doing well after Joan's passing. I received a message from and talked with Hank (from my first blog entry!)

I came home Saturday afternoon to find this hanging on my door:

It was from Tom's daughter. Tom had gone home a couple weeks ago, but his daughter had stopped by and left me a beautiful picture book of northern California to remember my time here.

Boy, will I.

As I was packing this evening, I found a wonderful page I had torn from the Live Your Best Life section of the Oprah magazine in July 2008. (I'm a sucker for quotes and beautiful photographs.)


I know, the print is too small. If you look closer, it says:

I suddenly realize why I have picked up this message. The timing is perfect.

It says to me:

Your world in northern California the past 18 months has been glorious, yes. But there are other places for you to explore and enjoy. Embrace the experience you are leaving, say goodbye, and get ready to fully acclimate to where you are headed.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Don't pine for what you are leaving.
Be present to a new experience.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Whimsical Insight from Steven Tyler

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I was writing one evening while listening to American Idol, and I just want to share a paraphrase of this great quote from Steven Tyler...

"We're all just
bozos on the bus
until we find a way
to express ourselves."

So true!!

Have you found your way?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Town Priest's Faux Pas

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I was walking back from lunch yesterday when I passed the town priest rushing out of the building. I called out hello to him. He said a brisk, "Hello," but he didn't make eye contact. He quickly hopped into his convertible and sped away.

Hmmmmm. That was odd.

Later the nurse, a bright, young fellow, who is a "go-to" guy, popped his head into the rehab department.

"Guess what."

I turned my head to look at him.

"The priest gave Whitey a piece of host (Catholic communion wafer), and he choked on it."

It was obvious that he was on a feeding was hooked up right at the bedside! That meant he could not swallow.

Lesson of the Day
Check in with the priest
before he brings communion
to your tube feeders!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Favorite Northern California Hikes

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I love the outdoors. I try to hike in the areas surrounding each of my assignments. My past two assignments in different parts of northern California have provided excellent places to enjoy nature. Because some of you may share that same love of paths trod and untrodden, here are a list of my favorite hikes in northern Cal.

Marin County
Point Reyes National Seashore has two GREAT trails I would recommend:

(approx. 21 km / 13 mi.)

This trail includes beautiful forest

and spectacular coastal hiking.

This is a hike with about 5 different microclimates and terrains. Just lovely! This is one hike where you want to make sure your camelbaks are full!


This is one beautiful hike within Point Reyes National Seashore, south of the Woodward Valley Loop. You spend a lot of time on the cliffs above the Ocean, and at the end, you can climb down the cliffs to the beach. I have to admit, by the time my friend, Rob, and I did this hike, the holds had worn down and it was very sandy and steep. Rob, who's 6'2", made it to the beach, and I didn't. I couldn't muster the courage to potentially fall and injure myself.

I have a great memory of standing in a grove of trees and breathing in eucalyptus. Hhhhmmmmmmm. Yes. Nice memory.

 Napa County


I did this hike with my friend, Lew, on a misty day, and it was gorgeous from the highest point. This hike requires some reaching up and climbing over large round rocks. Best to carry a trekking pole!  There are some steep sections. There are not a lot of places to stop and have a picnic, except for one..right at the top with a view of the Lake around which passing cars look as tiny as ants!

 Sonoma County


This park is built on the former private land of author and adventurer Jack London (who write Call of the Wild).  You can visit many different things on the grounds of this property, including Wolf House remains (a huge house he built in 1913 that burned down just before they moved into it), the House of Happy Walls (built by his wife Charmiane London), trails, barns, a manure pit, and an unusual pig central feeding house designed by London.


Such a lovely walk for an easy outdoor day. The trails are covered with blackberry bushes. One of my favorite memories of Sonoma County was spending a Sunday afternoon with one of my best friends from high school who lives in the Bay Area - we met up with a picnic and spent the afternoon picking berries and talking about old times.

Isn't it great how friends can transport us to another place and time!?

Mendocino County


I absolutely love this park. It's not really a long hike, but the perfect place to take a Sunday picnic. Right up to the water.

It has five wave-cut terraces that you walk down onto the beach. There's a pygmy forest there with knee-high trees that are decades old. Pretty cool and unusual!

Get out there.....explore!!