Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Blog

This process of moving from Blogger to WordPress has been a long one!  I still have a long way to go, but I'm finally satisfied enough with how it is shaping up to share it!!

Come visit me on WordPress:  Productive Boredom

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I Haven't Blogged

I knew there was a bit of a time gap since my last blog post, but I had NO idea it has been almost two months.  Time flies when you're watching Netflix and doodling.

Yes, as shameful as it sounds, that is exactly what I have been doing when I haven't been at work.  You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not.  I have discovered the wonderful world of Zentangle and I'm afraid I'm almost obsessed with it.

Zentangle is a form of doodling.  Apparently, it's also a form of meditation.  I came across some examples of it on Pinterest and have been hooked.  For my birthday, I received quite a few gift cards to my favorite place in the world: Barnes and Noble.  I purchased a sketchbook, brush markers, three Zentangle books, a drawing book, and a bunch of other stuff.  (Yeah, I had a lot to spend and I LOVED every penny of it!)  Probably no coincidence that my last blog post was 4 days after my birthday.  Sorry about that.

Some people say that multitasking is not really possible.  I beg to differ.  Here's what I've watched on Netflix:

Trailer Park Boys - All 7 seasons, the movie, and Live from Dublin
Dexter - All seasons
Behind Bars - All available episodes
I Almost Got Away With It - 3 episodes
American Horror Story - Season 1, Season 2 - 9 episodes
Orange is the New Black - 2 Seasons
The Office - 2 Seasons
Derek - 5 Episodes
The Andy Griffith Show - 4 episodes
Psych - 5 episodes
30 Days - 1 episode
Wilfred - 2 episodes
Ron White (A Little Unprofessional)
House, M.D. - 2 Seasons

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
The Family
The Lorax
Undertaking Betty

Seems like a lot of Netflix, and yes, I agree.  I can't just sit and watch Netflix, though.  Some people knit while they watch television, some do crossword puzzles, maybe even Sudoku.  I used to do Sudoku until I started doing this:

And this is why I've neglected my blog.  To learn more about Zentangle, Google it!  Try it.  You'll like it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Beginning of My 32nd Year

One of my coworkers was telling me about a woman she met on a flight from Arizona to Rochester, Minnesota.  Just 40 miles west of La Crosse in the small town of Fremont, Minnesota, Martha Johnson is still running The Fremont Store at the age of 98.  As she was telling me about her flight and about a trip she and her boyfriend took to the store, I felt compelled to meet this woman.  So, last Friday morning, on my 32nd birthday, I hit I-90 knowing it was going to be a memorable day.

When I took exit 242 and began looking for Fremont Store Road, I expected to become lost in the middle of nowhere.  With the help of Google, I at least knew what the store looked like.  A little over a mile down the country road, the store stood on the left and I almost drove right by it.  I parked to the right, between the store and a little yellow house, which I assumed belonged to Martha.

A bell rang as I opened the door and walked into the smell and warmth of a burning wood stove.  Martha was wearing a leopard print blouse and looked very similar to how I imagined her.  She was standing next to her walker with a broom, sweeping the uneven floorboards.

I introduced myself and explained how I heard of her and the store.  Within minutes, I was helping her put the pile she swept up into the trash can.  She invited me to have a seat, so I pulled up a folding chair that was beside a card table with a cloth checker board on it.  Martha took a seat in an old antique rocking chair behind the register and just across from me.  I had not even been in the store five minutes and I felt as though I had known this woman for many years.

The Fremont Store had been running for 158 years and visiting with Martha on Friday felt like stepping back in time.  Our conversation reminded me so much of my Great Grandma Grace and the times I spent with her in her little house back home in Wausau.  Just like when I would sit with Grandma, I listened intently and occasionally asked questions.

My eyes wandered around the store as she spoke of her husband (now deceased), her children, and her small town life.  The shelves were stocked with candy, potato chips, snacks, and candy bars. There were also everyday household supplies like garbage bags, laundry soap, and paper towel.  A variety of sodas and beverages were in the cooler beside an old refrigerator with a sign listing all of its contents.

The door opened and the bell rang several times in the two hours I sat and visited.  A middle-aged woman in jeans and a heavy flannel shirt came in.  She introduced herself as Mary, a neighbor from 'down the road', as she made a pot of coffee.  Mary sat down and joined us for the rest of the time I was there.

Two men came in and they looked like they could be father and son.  They had obviously never been to the store before because they didn't know it is a self-check-out establishment.  Martha has macular degeneration and is losing her eyesight, so customers open the register and make their own change.  They paid for their candy bars and Mountain Dews on the honor system and after witnessing this, I immediately felt very silly for having locked my car before coming in.  

Shortly after they left, another gentleman walked in.  He was an older man and within two minutes of his entrance I learned that he was a farmer from 'south of La Crescent'.  This was his first visit to the Fremont Store.  He chatted for a while, paid for his soda, and left.

Martha made sure to tell everyone about the guestbook to sign by the door.  "Mary, you sign it, too!" She said.  Mary replied, "Martha!  I come in here every week and you have me sign it EVERY week."  I left before Mary did, but I'm willing to bet that she signed the guestbook again.  Martha just doesn't seem like someone you can easily say no to.

My first attempt to leave, I picked out a few candy bars and a root beer for the ride home, checked myself out at the register, and then sat back down.  Martha told me about her son who had muscular dystrophy and helped run the store, how she fell outside behind the store last year, and about the heart attack she suffered.  "I'll never go into a nursing home," she said.  I believe her.

When I finally said goodbye, I turned the music off in my car and began driving back to La Crosse.  I spent the next 40 miles thinking about some of the things she had said that took me back to my childhood.  To the time when I had all of my grandparents and two great-grandmothers still living.  

"These days, you have to schedule an appointment to see your relatives.  We used to just show up.  Didn't matter if you were hanging laundry, you just took time to have a cup of coffee and visit."  This was our upbringing.  We never called first, we just showed up in Grandma Judy's kitchen.  Dad would drink coffee with Grandma and Grandpa while Shannon and I would play "secretary" at the desk at the top of the open staircase.  Sometimes, we'd sneak into Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom and try on Grandma's high heels or braid the curtains.

When I started 6th grade, the school was right across the street from Grandma Jean and Grandpa Larry's house.  Sometimes I would miss the bus on purpose just to be able to go over and visit.  Grandma would always feed me and if Mom or Dad didn't come get me, they'd drive me home.

When I made it back to La Crosse, I wanted to keep driving.  Alone with my thoughts and memories of simpler times I've lived through without realizing in the moment that they were simple times.  This woman I had only spent two hours with certainly created a legacy.  If I learned anything from the visit, it is that in the time I have left on this earth, I have my work cut out for me.    

It may not be as common to just pop in on people anymore, but I know now that there's an incredible woman ready to visit between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM everyday at the Fremont Store.

Visit The Fremont Store on Facebook!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Edition of The Dating Chronicles

Maybe I'm watching a little too much Dexter, but I stood a guy up this week.  My gut instinct was telling me that there was a strong possibility I would end up bound and gagged in a car trunk and my remains would turn on somewhere along the Mississippi River.   There are just certain things that you shouldn't put in a text message to someone you've never met.  Like, wear a dress, heels, and nylons.  And, I have something really special planned for you.  And, an invitation to hotel room to go along with this just made me feel a little uneasy.

A dress and heels?  Really?  I like jeans and a sneakers.  I can run faster that way.  He said he was in town on business and lives two hours from here.  Just have to wonder what kind of business when he has all of this extra time to text and play on online dating sites.  And, an invitation to a hotel on the first date?!  I'm guessing he doesn't do hotels like I do.  Fairly certain we wouldn't be in separate beds eating vending machine junk food and watching reality television.        

The night before we were supposed to go out, he was texting me asking me to meet him for a drink.  I was already in yoga pants and tucked nicely in bed.  "No" may be a difficult word for me, but when I'm comfortable and in yoga pants, NO rolls off my tongue like the F word rolls off Debra's tongue on Dexter.  (Another Dexter reference for you.)  I spent an hour texting him NO!  An hour that I could have spent watching Dexter, or writing in my journal about how much I LOVE being single.  This dude had already become a thorn in my side before we even went out, so I didn't feel so bad about shooting him a text saying I wouldn't be meeting him.  And, I'm not washed up on the shores of the Mississippi, so I think I made the right choice. 

One week from today I will be 32 and I don't feel any pressure to get married, so why am I putting myself through all this?  My biological clock doesn't care.  In fact, my uterus and I had a talk and she's in no hurry to have a miniature human move in.  In fact, she's the one encouraging the adoption option.  

Then it hits me... maybe this guy was completely normal?!  Maybe he's one of those hopeless romantics and here I am just talking to my uterus.    

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I did the unthinkable.  Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM was the last time I've had a Diet Coke.  It didn't stop there.  In the last week, I have only had one cup of caffeinated coffee.  Not going to lie, the first few days were pretty brutal.  Not only was I going through caffeine withdrawals, I was working 12 hours shifts and unable to take any type of headache medicine.  I survived and I'm still employed, so miracles really do happen.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, or know me at all, you know that my world has been revolving around caffeinated beverages for a while.  I actually trained my brain to think that it could not function for an entire 12 hour shift without the stuff.  Or, maybe my brain trained me to think it couldn't make it decaffeinated?  It reached a point where I would wake up in the morning feeling like my body was trying to register on the Richter scale, so I figured it was time to do something.

Easter Sunday, I landed back in the ER.  My blood pressure was normal, heart rate was only slightly elevated, and no fever.  Another virus.  My body was doing that metabolic acidosis stunt again, so I received two more liters of IV fluids.  They scheduled a follow up with my physician for last week Tuesday.  The same day I quit caffeine.

It's a beautiful thing when your doctor opens up the door to the exam room, shakes her head and laughs.  That's how you know you're a frequent flyer.  In the process of trying to figure out what is going on, she ordered another 24 hour lab with a list of things I had to avoid for 48 hours before the test and during the test.  So, I decided that if I had to give up caffeine, now would be the time to do it.  And, I did.

I can't say that I've seen or felt any of the benefits of giving up soda and trying to eat better, but it's only been a week.  The body is probably going through a state of shock right now.  Understandable for someone who has a food pyramid that looked like this:        

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Anyone who knows me knows that I love children.  This probably explains why "Kid President" is my favorite YouTube personality.  I adore his outlook on life and could spend all day watching his clips.  If you haven't yet watched any of his videos, take Monday's Mental Health Moment as the opportunity to do so.  Enjoy!

Kid President: How to Change the World

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Let's talk about my favorite topic today: Journaling.

I began writing and keeping journals in elementary school.  I can still remember my first diary.  It was blue and had a cheap gold lock on it.  The key was tiny and bent every time I unlocked the diary.  Eventually, I lost the key and just broke the lock off.  I don't remember what I was writing about in that little book, but I remember using colored pens and practicing my cursive.  Third grade in Mrs. Weller's class, I looked forward to two things: Cursive and Mrs. Weller playing guitar for us.      

Early on, I learned that writing was an outlet and served a very therapeutic purpose for me.  Even though my only publication was in a literary magazine published through my college, I consider myself a writer.  Not a professional writer, but a writer at heart.  I've written fiction, poetry, essays, research papers, a literature review, songs, book reviews, and non-fiction.  Keeping a journal probably my favorite form of writing because I can put whatever I want on the page.  There are no rules.  I can even misspell words, use incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, and not care.  (Not much different from this blog, huh?)  It is something I find to be relaxing and I often write in my journal right before I go to sleep at night.  

What are the benefits of keeping a journal?
(These are just a few of my personal benefits that I have found through my writing.  I'm sure anyone who keeps a journal could come up with their own list of benefits.)

  • It is a tool that helps me reflect on the day before I begin a new one.
  • I use it to set and assess goals.  They say that when you write down a goal, you are more likely to accomplish it.  I have found this to be true.  
  • When I pass on, my journals and writings will be something I leave behind.  I wish my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even my parents kept journals.  
  • I've been in many different mindsets and my journals reflect that.  I can look back on my writings and see how many struggles I have gone through and how I came through each one a better, stronger person.  
  • It's cheap therapy! 
  • When I journal, I tend to be more motivated to accomplish things.
  • Eases stress and allows me to vent about whatever I want to vent about.  Sometimes there are burdens on my shoulders I don't want to talk to another person about.  My journal is non-judgemental.    
  • I use my journal as a reminder to stay focused.  To stay positive.
  • It's a record of things I don't want to forget.  

So, you've never journaled before?  How do you start?

First things first, you need a journal.  It can be anything.  A notebook, a calendar (yes, people journal in calendars), a journal, a sketchbook, a photo album.  This is your baby.  Find something that works for you.  My favorite place to find a journal is Barnes and Noble.  They have a huge selection, but some can be a bit expensive.  Try shopping online.  

When I studied abroad in Belize, we had to have a journal.  It was an ecology course, so they wanted us to have sketchbooks instead of lined journals.  In addition to journaling, we were supposed to sketch some of the things we were observing.  This was three years ago and this completely changed the way I journal.  I no longer buy lined journals.  I like the freedom of having a completely blank page to fill.  These are the sketchbooks I purchase and you can find them in a variety of colors at Barnes and Noble.    
8x11 Sketchbook
$9.95 at Barnes and Noble
*As a personal preference, I avoid spiral bound journals and sketchbooks.  They come apart easily and the pages tend to fall out.

I work in Inpatient Behavioral Health and one of my favorite groups to teach is a group on journaling.  Unfortunately, most of my journals are in storage and I don't think I'd be comfortable bringing them to work to show patients the endless possibilities of journaling.  So, I started one that I could bring to use as a demonstration journal and I am having a blast with it!  Here are a few sample pages:

A few things I do in my journal:

  • When I journal about the day, I always put the date somewhere on the page.  
  • What I write (Not always all of these in one entry... just some ideas of things to include):
    • Something that made me laugh
    • Something I learned
    • An event that occurred (a holiday, a current event, a birthday, a storm etc...)
    • Something I could have done differently
    • Something kind someone did for me
  • Write lists!
    • Lists of "Favorites"
      • Favorite Songs
      • Favorite Movies
      • Favorite Places
      • Dream Travel Destinations
      • Favorite Places I've visited
      • Favorite Useless Facts (I have way more of these than anyone needs!)
      • Favorite Restaurants, Foods, Beverages
      • Favorite Summer Activities
      • Favorite Winter Activities
      • Favorite Apps
      • Favorite Websites
      • Favorite Coping Skills
      • Favorite Unhealthy Coping Skills 
      • Favorite Childhood Toys
      • Favorite Memories
    • Accomplishments
    • Goals 
      • Include steps to achieve them!
    • Positive Words to Use More Often
  • Make a page of favorite song lyrics
  • Go somewhere and just make observations of what you see! (At a park, a coffee shop, the mall)
  • Write down quotes that you hear throughout the day
  • Make a page of your favorite quotes from movies
  • Make a timeline of your life so far

I'm sure this is the first of many journaling blog entries I post.  In the meantime, go unleash your inner writer!!