VALERIEMAHA's SparkPeople Blog VALERIEMAHA's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Starting all over again is going to be tough.... <img src=""> <BR> (Friday night gathering of four good friends. I want to feel better about being out-and-about again.) <BR> <BR> ...but I'm gonna' make it! <BR> ( <link><BR>aWp4Hu4 </link> ) <BR> <BR> I DO want to improve my health, well-being, and self-esteem during this period of my life. In my last blog I outlined what happened to this aging body in May: <BR> <BR> I con... Sun, 19 Nov 2017 14:19:21 EST Once upon a time... <img src=""> <BR> <BR> and a half years ago, I was 30 lbs. lighter. <BR> <BR> Back to the present, though, I rode my bike to The Ride (20 miles round trip) this morning, the best bike shop in central AR(!), for some maintenance before heading to Hot Springs/Lake Hamilton for a week of recreational cycling with my two best friends on the planet (one flying in from San Francisco, and the other from Maui). ... Sat, 16 Sep 2017 08:26:42 EST I'll get this yet.... <img src=""> <BR> Hmmmm...noticing that the last of the two recent SP blog entries was August 28, 2-1/2 weeks ago. I realize I'm clearly still struggling about the need to alter some critical behaviors and accept who I am in the world now, in all my perfect imperfection, and with the limitations that illness and aging can carry with them. <BR> <BR> To add some positivity to the mix, here are some behaviors I have ... Wed, 13 Sep 2017 15:58:59 EST Day 2 of reevaluating.... <img src=""> <BR> <BR> As ME_HERE_NOW commented on my blog yesterday, "most impressive to me is you've kept up with your biking even thru the heat & prednisone challenges." It's true that one good habit which has persisted through this period is my (almost) daily bike ride. I pedal from 8-20 miles, depending on what I'm up to. <BR> <BR> My total today was 8-1/2 miles. It was to my Starbucks hangout, a very pleasa... Mon, 28 Aug 2017 17:23:07 EST *sigh* <img src=""> <BR> The short version: <BR> My life went topsy-turvy back in May when a severe case of Giant Cell Arteritis necessitated that I begin oral steroids after an initial mega-injection. I had to quit the job I had been recently trained for when the illness, and then the side-effects of 80mg of prednisone, took a major toll on my wellness. <BR> <BR> The drug protocol calls for systematic tapering and, as... Sun, 27 Aug 2017 18:26:16 EST Gracias a la vida.... I thank my dear friend MISS_VIV for the suggestion to write a blog, and dedicate this to her (also a music lover): <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I'm listening to a stunning collection of the music of Mercedes Sosa, the Argentine protest singer, who is better known outside of the USA. Her music always touches me deeply and grounds me in times of confusion and doubt. <BR> <BR> I'll write more after the English... Sun, 5 Feb 2017 13:36:29 EST ...and on <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Happy Monday -- I managed to get rid of one pound last week, in spite of pumpkin pie treats almost daily. I'm definitely not in a good place for getting serious about this, but I'm still determined to do my best, all things considered in my life here-and-now. One less pound is better than one or two more pounds, which could easily have transpired, though I have been somewhat more attentive t... Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:14:57 EST Yes, Sonny and Cher, "The Beat Goes On" <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I KNOW the truth of the meme above (Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The trick is to sit at the feet of your own life and let yourself be taught by it). The other *truth* is that I've been on a downward spiral and with a couple of wake up calls recently, last night I decided to take some concrete steps to turn this movement around. <BR> <BR> So, it's *interesting* then, that ... Mon, 21 Nov 2016 17:34:46 EST I Can See Clearly Now <img src=""> <BR> <BR> A song I've always loved, and Johnny Nash is my favorite singer of it: <BR> <link> </link> <BR> <BR> Music is a powerful therapy for me. As is sunshine. As is taking off on a bike ride.They have been converging recently and help me navigate through the rocky terrain. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 21 Aug 2016 15:23:16 EST Accountability, Part 3 I'm down two pounds since I started looking at accountability. <BR> <BR> I have been going for hour-long or more energetic bike rides every day (today is the first day I've relented, since the rain hasn't let up since it started last night!). <BR> <BR> I realize that a low-grade chronic depression must "weigh in" (pun intended) on my current state. It is hard to practice the consistent discipline required to maintain a proper weight when I'm emotionally off-balance. <BR> <BR> "Neurons tha... Sun, 14 Aug 2016 12:27:42 EST Accountability, Part 2 <img src=""> <BR> <BR> "Sure, weight is lost in the kitchen," says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. "But health is gained in the gyms." <BR> <BR> I'm not ready to track yet. I'm eliminating foods (read my lips: ICE CREAM, etc.), and eating consciously with awareness of portions. <BR> <BR> I've been consistent in my early morning bicycle rides, mostly one hour long. Slow but steady wins the race? <BR> <BR> <em>491</em> ... Sat, 6 Aug 2016 09:59:00 EST Accountability for me to me <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I had a rude awakening, stopping by my doc's office to use the scales today after yoga class. I weighed in at 152. No words.... <BR> <BR> I've been going on 1-hr. bike rides several days per week. And I've been eating like I've been going on 8-hr. bike rides several days per week. <BR> <BR> I've calendared a trip by the doc's on September 7 after yoga to weigh in. Further deliberations i... Wed, 3 Aug 2016 19:41:45 EST Road Trip! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> TRAVELER (David Whyte says it best) <BR> <BR> The heart's <BR> a close-in horizon <BR> that holds all distance <BR> but gives <BR> no explanation <BR> to the tidal scour <BR> of life <BR> taking us <BR> on and away <BR> from the home <BR> we know so well, <BR> tearing us <BR> from <BR> the place <BR> we tried to <BR> inhabit <BR> so firmly, <BR> the anchorage <BR> all gone, <BR> the faces ... Tue, 24 May 2016 19:48:00 EST This is my message to you: Don't worry about a thing.... <img src=""> <BR> And do not worry that your life is <BR> turning upside down. <BR> How do you know that the side <BR> you are used to is better than the one to come? <BR> -- Rumi <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <em>55</em> <BR> Bob Marley perfectly mirrors Rumi's Truth in this wonderful musical message: <BR> <link> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 23:29:14 EST The inward and outward journeys intersect <img src=""> <BR> Anam Thubten <BR> <link> </link> <BR> <BR> I expected to WAKE UP this morning totally ENLIGHTENED after the yoga workshop last weekend and the meditation retreat this weekend! So much for "expectations." <BR> <BR> The visit of California-based Tibetan teacher Anam Thubten began with a Friday night talk at the Unitarian Church. It was full of wisdom as always and was very well... Mon, 11 Apr 2016 22:07:13 EST I DID IT! I survived an intense weekend with almost 12 hours of hatha yoga from a demanding, precise teacher, along with 21 others students! I think my persistence with strength and aerobic training helped me, especially with more difficult asanas such as the shoulder stand. Here are a few photos, though since I took all but one of them, I'm not in them (duh): <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Anne Avant (left), long-time Iyengar... Thu, 7 Apr 2016 01:03:37 EST Why am I not surprised? <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I am at precisely the same weight as I was one month ago when I weighed in at my doc's office as I did today. I am 15 pounds from my "fighting weight"...and I am disappointed in myself. <BR> <BR> I have been sloppy in consistency of conscious food choices and tracking, as well as regular, consistent exercise, a sure recipe for mediocre results. I'm lucky I'm simply at a stalemate, instead o... Wed, 23 Mar 2016 13:29:32 EST Everyday is International Women's Day <img src=""> <BR> <BR> No More Cliches <BR> <BR> Beautiful face <BR> That like a daisy opens its petals to the sun <BR> So do you <BR> Open your face to me as I turn the page. <BR> <BR> Enchanting smile <BR> Any man would be under your spell, <BR> Oh, beauty of a magazine. <BR> <BR> How many poems have been written to you? <BR> How many Dantes have written to you, Beatrice? <BR> To your obsessive illusion <B... Tue, 8 Mar 2016 19:12:55 EST No time to waste! <img src=""> <BR> I use Kathy Smith's DVD, Lift Weights to Lose Weight every-other day for a 20-minute upper body work-out, plus five minutes of sit-ups on the same program. If I am consistent and diligent, I will complete 13 more sessions before the the 3-day workshop with senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Kevin Gardiner begins April 1 (see my last blog, "Let the Challenge Begin!," if you missed my excitement about it).... Sat, 5 Mar 2016 22:24:27 EST Let the Challenge Begin! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I have had good success in my efforts to slim down over the last month, having dropped eight pounds so far: <BR> <link><BR>urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=6104205 </link> <BR> <BR> The journey began with this realization: <BR> <link><BR>urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=6075336 </link> <BR> There have been eight blogs in ... Thu, 25 Feb 2016 12:50:16 EST Yet another solar return.... <img src=""> <BR> Yesterday at 11:50am, I completed the 74th rotation of the sun in Pisces. And today at about 11:50 I weighed in at my doc's office, one month after my initial weigh-in, precipitating the blog "Attention Call." on Jan 21. <BR> <BR> The good news is that I'm down eight pounds -- 153 to 145 lbs. Woo hoo! Not a bad start. The bad news is that I haven't yet integrated cardio or strength training into ... Wed, 24 Feb 2016 23:42:18 EST Tracking Debacle, Tracking Triumph <img src=""> <BR> <BR> January 21 started this journey away from crazy eating and toward rational, conscious choices. I've had 20 days so far to get used to the process of tracking intake in order to stay within my daily caloric range of 1200-1550. Generally I've done alright, finishing the day closer to the higher end of the range. <BR> <BR> Feb 8 was a disaster though, with a caloric total of 1829. In reviewin... Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:13:24 EST Pleasant culinary revelatons while eating consciously <img src=""> <BR> <em>277</em> Mindful Eating, Mindful Life <em>267</em> <BR> <BR> As I close in on the second week of once again eating consciously, I'm steady at the helm with my nutrition tracking and quite shaky in my exercise, tracking or not. As I said in my first blog on this resolve, on January 21, I weighed at my doc's office on Jan 20...and I'll next weigh in my birthday week, probably Feb 22 or 23. A... Mon, 1 Feb 2016 23:22:17 EST Control <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Sometimes control is a good and necessary thing in my with food intake. I feel like I've been in a free fall pattern at least since August. I remember noticing, upon first getting back from Ecuador in June, that I got full eating much less than I typically had prior to going to there. <BR> <BR> It seems that my eating pattern was naturally healthier during my nine months in Ecu... Tue, 26 Jan 2016 17:43:22 EST Happy birthday to me! <img src=""> <BR> What better gift can I give myself than good health, right? I weighed in at the doc's office on Jan 20. I'm not going to use my scale here at home. I'll weigh in next month at the doc's office again on or about my birthday, Feb 22-23. I'm committed to taking care of the "temple" or as my friend BrightSpark calls it, the "God-Pod," so the results of that care a month from now should be good news! <... Sun, 24 Jan 2016 20:12:51 EST Onward! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I'm so grateful for all the comments and helpful feedback on yesterday's "Attention Call." It is indeed time to pay attention, if I want to continue with the high quality of health that I now enjoy. I've never had to take any ongoing pills, except for my self-prescribed vitamins and supplements...and I want to keep it that way. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Fri, 22 Jan 2016 14:34:38 EST Attention Call! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> When I returned from Ecuador I weighed 133 at my doc's office on June 11. Yesterday, January 20, I stopped by the office once again to weigh. This time, seven months later, I weighed 153. That's a weight gain of almost 3 pounds per month. I'm aghast and ashamed and anxious. This should not be. <BR> <BR> What happened? Well, for the first couple months, I recall having a small appetite and e... Thu, 21 Jan 2016 10:57:13 EST Catch-up time! <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I haven't been here to write and reflect since returning from Ecuador almost six months ago! Returning hasn't been easy, but then life in Ecuador wasn't exactly a "bed of roses" either. Both here and there I have experienced bliss and sorrow and everything in-between, because my life is simply a microcosm of the duality inherent in existence on this earth plane. <BR> <BR> <img src="http:/... Mon, 14 Dec 2015 10:52:03 EST I DID IT! Another Rite of Passage ritual <img src=""> <BR> Lago (Lake) Cuicocha, near Quiroga, Ecuador <BR> <BR> Shortly before leaving San Francisco for Ecuador last September, dear friend Ricardo Govinda and I, at his suggestion, walked together across the Golden Gate Bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay on one side and the majestic Pacific Ocean on the other. It was both memorable and fitting, as I prepared to leave the USA for an extended time. <BR... Tue, 12 May 2015 13:13:08 EST A Young Woman's Coming-of-Age -- La Quinceanera!!! <img src=""> <BR> Hand-crafted guest book <BR> <em>214</em> <BR> I could list many reasons (read my lips: TECHNOLOGY) and excuses for the delay, but I'll skip that, simply offering huge apologies to all the generous-hearted friends AND this promised remembrance, with brief commentary, of Amrita's (my god daughter) wonderful 15th birthday party on December 30, 2014. Thank you to ALL my special friends who helped to make this possible! ... Tue, 10 Mar 2015 21:26:52 EST Giving Thanks, my pledge Given what's going on all around my own country...and the world, I pledge: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> An original Dharma Comic by Leah Pearlman <BR> <BR> <BR> A PLEDGE FOR GRATEFUL LIVING <BR> -- Brother David Steindl-Rast <BR> <BR> In thanksgiving for life, I pledge <BR> to overcome the illusion of entitlement <BR> by reminding myself that everything is gift <BR> and, thus, to live gratefully. <BR> <BR> In thanksgiving for life, I... Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:32:43 EST Part II, Days-in-the-life in Ecuador, #19, 2014-15 Trip <img src=""> <BR> Thay, as Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately known <BR> <BR> As I move through the days, the importance of the counsel from many of my teachers was forcefully brought home last week with the news of beloved Thich Nhat Hanh's critical health condition. <BR> <link><BR>cher-in-hospital/ </link> <BR> As it is taught, our human birth is very rare and precious. Vipassana teacher Kamala M... Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:47:39 EST Days-in-the-Life in Ecuador (in photos) #18, 2014-5 Trip <img src=""> <BR> Here is the home of Adelaida and Amrita, out in the country between Otavalo and Quiroga -- ALL three (including the house!) welcoming me to this new adventure. I spent my first month here after my September 25th arrival. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Enjoying morning coffee with Adelaida on the back patio <BR> <BR> <img src=" Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:23:27 EST Good bye USA, hello Ecuador! #17, 2014 Trip We now return to our regular programming playing catch-up, so that I can begin sharing with you in the "present tense," here in Ecuador! And I believe this is last in the "catch-up" series -- my lovely, bittersweet stay with sister Dawn in her amazing condo in Pacifica (about 10 minutes from the airport, at least at 5:00am in the morning!) <BR> <BR> The packing process was cumbersome and tedious and Dawn and her lovely housemate were long-suffering and generous about the mess. Of course, bey... Tue, 4 Nov 2014 19:23:52 EST Amrita en La Unidad Educativa Las Lomas, #16, 2014 Trip We now interrupt regular programming to bring you an out-of-order report because...well, it's TIME! Time to share how things are going with my 14-year old god daughter Amrita (whose quinceañera will be December 30!) in the new private school in Cotacachi, Ecuador, with smaller classes and ostensibly more personalized attention. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Amri... Sun, 2 Nov 2014 18:45:00 EST Party Hardy! -- #15, 2014 Trip <img src=""> <BR> Down memory lane -- I met my sangha family, now dearest friends, in the early 80s at the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco, where I lived and taught for a few years. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Swami Divyananda, shown here teaching at the SF IYI, was the director of the Center during my tenure there. <BR> <BR> And NOW, on to the PAR-TAY! My plane took off e... Sun, 12 Oct 2014 12:39:02 EST which is yes -- #14, 2014 Trip I thank You God for most this amazing <BR> day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees <BR> and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything <BR> which is natural which is infinite which is yes <BR> <BR> --ee cummings, who says it best when I can't say it (as my friend Rachel, MTRACHEL, reflected) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Oh no -- you've been out digging in the bushes again, Tiger Lily (a sweet-natured 5-pound bundle of love)!... Wed, 8 Oct 2014 14:46:50 EST OFF I GO! #13, 2014 Trip <img src=""> <BR> With my soul sister Adelaida on my 71st birthday in Ecuador, Feb 23, 2013. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Adelaida and her daughter, my beloved goddaughter Amrita, with dear friends Micaela and her mom Sandra, at their home in Cotacachi <BR> <em>144</em> <BR> I'VE BOOKED MY FLIGHT to Ecuador, departing San Francisco at 6:00am on September 24 and arriving Quito on Sep... Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:30:47 EST I SOLD THE CAMPER. #12, 2014 Trip Essentially, I own nothing. <BR> <BR> THE MOMENT <BR> <BR> The moment when, after many years <BR> of hard work and a long voyage <BR> you stand in the centre of your room, <BR> house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, <BR> knowing at last how you got there, <BR> and say, I own this, <BR> <BR> is the same moment when the trees unloose <BR> their soft arms from around you, <BR> the birds take back their language, <BR> the cliffs fissure and collapse, <BR> the air moves back from you l... Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:04:30 EST Capital SparkFriends in the Capital! #11, 2014 Trip Definition of "capital" as an adjective -- "excellent or first-rate: a capital fellow or girl, a capital hotel." <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> I was recently with capital friends Kathy (ATRANSFORMATION) and Vivian (MISS_VIV), each welcoming me into their Sacramento, CA area homes and sharing a gracious spirit of hospitality. The return visit has been a long time coming and I deeply enjoyed the time with them as our friendships grow an... Sun, 3 Aug 2014 22:24:45 EST Oh joy! San Francisco Bay Area and Environs, #10 2014 Trip The first stopover in the SF Bay Area, has come and gone and this blog is long overdue. (I am now visiting dear Kathy, ATRANSFORMATION, in Folsom, Sacramento area. Stay tuned for #11 on my Sacramento area sojourn with Kathy and Vivian, MISS_VIV.) <BR> <BR> So here are a few photos and reflections on the magical SF Bay Area and environs, with some beloved friends. One unfortunate photos omission is a sail boat race that Diana enjoyed being a part of, invited by our friend, Ira. Kaveri an... Tue, 8 Jul 2014 17:56:04 EST We have arrived! #9 2014 Trip I would say I'm into the third chapter of this adventure, one being Little Rock to San Diego, where I rendezvoused with Diana, two being the trip up the California coast to San Francisco with Diana, and three, the stopover in the SF Bay Area. Four will be a visit to Sacramento area friends. Five? Not sure which chapter Ecuador will be! So, to finish chapter two: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> The beach near our Carpenteria camp site. <B... Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:52:34 EST Title: Trundling up the California Coast #8 2014 Trip I'm entering the near past, not to dwell there (of course), but simply to begin to bring you up to the present. I left off in Blog #7 having arrived to San Diego to reunite with my soul sister, Diana and continue up the coast to San Francisco to rendezvous with Dawn and other friends. Dawn, Diana and I met when we all lived and taught at the Integral Yoga Institute in the early and mid-80s. We became best friends then, inseparable, and known by some as The Three Sisters. <BR> <BR> After s... Wed, 25 Jun 2014 22:09:58 EST San Francisco or bust! #7 2014 Trip <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> This is the San Francisco digs (near Geary and Presidio) of dear friend Jnani, where Diana and I are currently hanging out. Jnani is in southern California for the week teaching at Loyola University and visiting friends. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> We spent yesterday cruising some old... Tue, 24 Jun 2014 18:23:22 EST Friends and Dos Picos County Park #6 2014 Trip <img src=""> <BR> I traveled on the famous Route 66 to my old Hawaii-now-Arizona friend Sam's, in Topock, AZ, arriving a week ago. <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Scenery along the way <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> I shot this quickie as we got his rebuil... Sun, 15 Jun 2014 11:10:11 EST Miscellaneous trip shots #5 2014 Trip It's a sunny, warm morning in Brawley. I'm on my bicycle at 6:00am and decided to come to Starbucks to post some of the photos that have "fallen by the wayside." <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> There were dozens of these in New Mexico: <BR> <BR> They are about 50 miles west of Socorro, the VLA (Very Large Array) - a series of 27 (yes, twenty-seven!) 230-ton radio astronomy dishes, arranged in a flexibly Y configuration. Using as... Sat, 14 Jun 2014 11:24:25 EST More bicycling in the high desert #4 2014 Trip Well, it has been a rather challenging day, because after I left my friend's place in Topock, AZ my cell phone died. I'm in Brawley now for the night. It's in the Imperial Valley, part of the "agricultural basket" of California. I went to a Radio Shack, but after 1.5 hours they decided they couldn't help me (long story), although after polishing my cell battery a few times, the phone did boot. On to more pleasant considerations, as I sit in a Starbucks and enjoy the A/C. <BR> <BR> I stay... Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:25:19 EST A little of this, a little of that, #3 2014 Trip Because my computer access is so limited (I'm at the library doing this), I will just send some photo clips today, and hope to have greater access when I get to California next week: <BR> <BR> So far so good: <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> This is the way I feel under the New Mexico and Arizona sky: <BR> <em>8</em> <BR> Entrance <BR> (After Rilke) <BR> <BR> Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight, <BR> Out of the room that lets you... Tue, 10 Jun 2014 13:45:54 EST Woven around the heart of wonder, #2B, 2014 Trip May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder. <BR> -- John O'Donohue <BR> <BR> <BR> I am well into the solo camper trip to the west coast, having begun May 24 from home in central Arkansas. This June 2 early Monday morning finds me ready to continue the western pull, after landing five days ago at my yoga sister Connie's amazing digs in Sandia Park, outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. <BR> <BR> Many wonderful things have come and is the tip of ... Tue, 3 Jun 2014 10:10:32 EST Woven around the heart of wonder, #2, 2014 Trip May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder. <BR> -- John O'Donohue <BR> <BR> I am well into the west coast road trip, having begun May 24 from home in central Arkansas. This June 2 early Monday morning finds me ready to continue the western pull, after landing five days ago at my yoga sister Connie's amazing digs in Sandia Park, outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. <BR> <BR> I'm on her PC and the photos, such as they are, aren't copying for me, so no images... Mon, 2 Jun 2014 10:51:30 EST