Monday, January 26, 2009

It's tea time!

I have never been a coffee drinker, unlike the rest of my family who drink the foul stuff by the gallons. I do, however, enjoy a cup of hot tea. Especially on cold, damp, dreary days like today. Many of you know that Scott and I visited Great Britain the summer of 2007. Even though we visited in August, the temperature rarely got above 60 degrees. It was amazing to come home after a long day of sightseeing to traditional tea, complete with cream, sugar and biscuits.

As I'm typing this, I'm curled up on my couch with a cup of English Breakfast tea watching television with my puppies. Interestingly enough, I was reading a borrowed February 2009 Ladies Home Journal and there's an article about the health benefits of hot tea. It states that scientists are finding that drinking tea may keep your heart healthy, protect you from cancer, boost your body's ability to fight off germs, strengthen your bones, prevent cavities and sharpen your concentration (it also may stave off Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.)
"White, black, oolong and green teas have different aromas and flavors, but they're all healthy, " says Jeffrey Blumbrerg, Ph.D, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory. Tea's healthy benefits come from antioxidants called flavnoids; these destroy highly toxic free radicals in the body which can trigger disease.

Another tip from the Ladies Home Journal article: Here's how to eliminate most of the caffeine in regular tea: Steep loose tea or a teabag in hot water for 45 seconds, then pour off the water. Add more hot water and brew tea as usual. This won't change the flover or affect the health benefits!

How do I like my tea? I like English Breakfast tea or Earl Grey tea, with a little half and half and sugar in the raw. YUM.
Did I intrigue any of you to give hot tea a try? Hey, I don't call this "Carmen's blog of useless facts..." for nothing. Maybe these won't be just useless facts if someone finds them useful...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Maya and me and wii...

Meet Maya. She's my personal trainer. I've been working out with her for a couple of weeks now, only I don't go to the gym. I work out with Maya in the comfort of my own home via our Wii and My Fitness Coach. She's challenging, she's fun and she kicks my butt. Scott bought this game for me just after the new year began because I think he was trying to give me a hint AND it was only $19.99. I was a little sceptical at first, but I'm a believer now. You begin by creating your profile, including your height/weight/heart rate, taking measurements and conducting a fitness profile. I was embarrassed at how few pushups I could do. Maya then uses your results to make recommendations on what she thinks you should work on. You have the option of working on specific things like cardio, yoga, or focusing on upper body, core or lower body. One of the neat things about the program is she asks you periodically how you are handling the workout and she will adjust your next workout accordingly. How often do you get that at the gym? So far I am pleased with Maya and would recommend her highly! For any of you with a Wii, it's a must buy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Do any of you ever feel like life is happening all around you, but you are just an observer? That's how I feel right now in this stage of my life. Limbo with everything: job, house, location, LIFE. Like everyone else has their life all figured out except me...

Am I the only one that ever feels this way?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

You just never know...

You just never know when something that you've been through, or something that you are going through can impact the lives of others. Many of you know that I was diagnosed with a rare, auto-immune disease when I was sixteen that eventually destroyed my kidneys. This is something that you wouldn't know by looking at me , and is something I don't broadcast on a daily basis. However, it's been amazing through the years just how many people I've been able to help and encourage who are going through something similar to what I've been through. I've talked with other Wegener's patients and told them there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, that this disease CAN go into remission. I've talked with lots of kidney patients about transplants and hopefully been able to encourage them and answer questions about the surgery, the medicines, side-effects, etc. Recently I discovered that one of my board member's wives has had kidney disease for 7 years and is going to have a transplant. I was so happy to be able to talk to her about everything from weight gain post-transplant to hair loss to when you can have children after transplants. Like I said, this is not something I usually broadcast to people, but God always seems to place these people in my path. And I'm grateful for that. It makes everything I've been through worth it. Here and here are a couple of stories our local paper did about us: to raise awareness of kidney disease and to help raise money for this family. And her day is finally here! She will be having her transplant tomorrow! The really neat thing about this story is that her donor is a friend, not a relative. What an amazing story of hope, life and selflessness. I hope this is an inspiration to you all!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The first step to success...

I work at a Chamber of Commerce. We are (hopefully) the first step that people take when wanting to start a business. I love it when people come in with that excitement in their eyes about pursuing a lifelong dream. I almost feel like a hypocrite encouraging them to do something that I'm not sure I'd ever have the guts to do. It's so amazing to me that people are willing to take such tremendous risks- investing their life savings even- for a chance at something great.

I was recently in our community's Adult Learning Center and I noticed a quote on the chalkboard: "The first step to success is getting started."

That quote really struck a chord with me. There always seems to be some big obstacle between me and my dreams: geography, time, money to name a few. But I've recently learned that the biggest obstacle of them all is ME. I'm the one holding me back. I'm the one that's afraid to start things because of a fear of failure.

So tonight I decided that instead of vegging on the couch feeling sorry for myself, I was going to do something that I haven't done in years, but has always brought me joy. I broke out an easel Scott gave me for Christmas LAST year and painted. And it was liberating. And therapeutic. And wonderful. And I don't care what the end result looks like. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't haven't to impress anyone. It doesn't have to ever hang on any wall.

Sometimes the first step to success is getting started...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jack of all Trades...

So it's the beginning of another year. A time to reflect on who I am, what kind of a person I am, what am I doing with my life- those kinds of important questions. During one of my recent soul-searching adventures, I discovered that I strive to be good at everything. I read all these blogs and books- interior decorating, photography, cooking, health and fitness (just to name a few)- and I want to be good at all those things. And I am good at a lot of things. A well-rounded person, you might say. The problems lies in the fact that while I'm GOOD at a LOT of things, I'm not GREAT at any ONE thing. A certified "Jack of All Trades, Master of None..."

I've always admired my husband because he figured out pretty early on that he wanted to be a GREAT piano player (and in my humble opinion, he is.) Sure he dabbled with guitar and saxophone in high school, but once he figured out what his true passion was, he pursued it with everything that was in him. Both my younger sisters have discovered their passions- Megan with photography and Maddie with art. They are both in pursuit of their passions and are going to make careers of them.

So 2009 is going to be a new beginning for me. I'm not going to make the traditional "New Year's Resolution" to have a few goals to meet. I'm going to concentrate on figuring out what makes me tick, what brings me joy and what's important with my life and I'm going to pursue those things with passion. Not what I'm "supposed" to do or what's "expected" of me and not what I think will impress other people. I'm going to seek and then pursue those things that are important to me. This will be an interesting journey that I hope you will join me on...