Sunday, August 23, 2009

Whispers revealed

We all have them... that inner voice that speaks to us. The whispers are always there nudging you to listen. Often we ignore them and shift our focus onto something else. But they are always there in our conscious minds pulling at our hearts wanting us to pay attention. They come to us in many forms....dreams....thoughts....words spoken to one another. They come in times of silence and in times of chaos. Sometimes they speak softly and other times they are screaming so loud it is hard to concentrate on anything else. Whispers come from a place deep within. It is our intuition talking to us... if we pay attention it can be our navigation system leading us to our true potential. Our true selves. Listen to your whispers....follow what they are saying.....believe in possibilities.

Here are some of my whispers......

become a consultant for families who have children with autism......

Buy a SLR digital camera ...or I like to call it a "real" whisper to learn, understand and create through photography is very LOUD these days......

Find a man to join me in this journey called life......

own a house in Seattle...a cute craftsman...with hard wood molding and large windows that allow in lots of wonderful warm light.....

add to my "family" a golden retriever......

have my very own vegetable garden......

travel the world....

What are your whispers?? What dreams are speaking to you right now??

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The health care debate is making me sick

by Brian Unger

The health care debate is toxic, revealing a lot about us as a nation. And it feels embarrassing — like the whole world can see our underpants. Or hear us fighting in the kitchen.

First, most of us can't describe accurately the details of the health care reform now under debate. That makes us look stupid or too busy to care.

Second, most of us can't describe accurately the health care or insurance we currently have, so that makes us look kind of stupid or lazy.

Some of us don't care about people who don't have health insurance, so that makes us seem unsympathetic or super lucky.

Most of us don't understand that we're already paying for people who don't have health care — which makes us too busy to care, in denial or merely rich.

Some of us — a lot of us — already receive health care under some form of government plan, but don't believe in health care under some form of government plan. That makes us hypocritical or selfish. In some camps, I hear that makes us patriotic.

A lot of us are a combination of these things: too busy, lazy, a bit stupid perhaps, lucky, unsympathetic, in-denial, really rich, hypocritical, selfish ... and patriotic.

We're having an identity crisis when it comes to caring about the nation's health, which makes me think what we really need is psychotherapy. But, sadly, that's not covered under most health plans, if you have one at all.

To many, health care reform is scary, like someone's building a halfway house for criminals right at their doorstep. It's a N.I.M.B.Y. ("Not In My Backyard") issue evolved into a N.O.M.B.O. ("Not On My Back, Obama") issue.

People never change. But policy can, so our health care reformers must get more creative and visionary.

How about a Cash for Clunkers Program? Not for cars, but for older, beat-up people whose bodies have wear and tear, and can't go long distances when they're filled with gas?

Our government is offering us $4,500 to buy a new car. Can it also offer humans incentives — say, a tax break — to join a gym? To quit smoking? Or to buy produce from local farmers? Reward schools that teach kids how to eat right and exercise? You know, kind of like that class we used to offer kids called "gym."

Let's pay people to stay healthy, instead of only paying for them when they get sick. Then maybe our nation will find its compassion, the one true antidote for its health care identity crisis.

Brian Unger is a writer, satirist and actor.
He helped launch The Daily Show and he is a regular contributor to NPR.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Such a treat!

Blackberries.......delicious! I picked these on my walk home from work today. Yup....that's right ....the trail I take home is lined with TONS of blackberry bushes......and right now is the perfect picking time. I was taught last summer what to look for when picking blackberries from a wonderful 10 year old boy who has autism. I remember him saying to me " You have to use your heart when picking blackberries".....oh how my heart melted at that moment! I took Evan's advice today and it did not fail me. I picked the BEST blackberries. So juicy and ohh so sweet. The best part my purple stained hands....another sign of summer!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A new mode of transportation

This past week marked the start of summer camp. A summer camp that I have had the opportunity to develop and design. This camp is for students with High functioning autism and Aspergers...and is being run through the University of Washington. I found out the week before that the UW doesn't give parking passes to their employee's (or only to a select few) the rest must either bike or bus it to work. How cool is that??

I live maybe.....a mile from the UW. Lucky for me the Burke Gilman is right by my house (this is the biking trail here in Seattle). So I was thrilled...I finally get a chance to pull my bike out and use it. Off I went to my laundry room to rescue my bike. It was spider hair.......camping was not a pretty sight. The tires were flat....I mean not sure they were going to work flat. The handle bars where the brake was located was bent in. This had happened when brilliant me decided to hang my bike from the ceiling. In my mind it was a great idea......more space in the laundry room. Little did I know apparently you need to hang these objects from the beams?? What? I just put it up......well it came down after about a month. Note to self...find the ceiling beams!

I pulled the bike out and I have to say it wasn't looking good. I took my bike over to my friend Tracey's house. Her husband was so kind to look/fix it. Side note.......the new jetta IS much whole bike fit inside my trunk......of course with the seats pulled down....but my last jetta it wouldn't fit. Yay!

My bike was able to be saved! It was ready to get on the road again. Now it has been well over a year since I had last been on my bike. I mean how difficult can it be right?? You get on and ride. Well that is true. I have no crazy story to tell about falling or crashing on my bike. However I was not prepared for how sore I was going to be! I felt so pathetic...I mean I am an active person.....I hike and walk quite a bit...use my legs. Apparently you use VERY different muscles for biking. Needless to say it was Wednesday before they started feel somewhat better.

I have loved biking to work this past week. I am looking forward to doing it again this next week. I enjoy feeling the cool morning air on my face........the rapid beating of my heart...... being just a tad bit out of breathe when getting to the stoplight......knowing that I am getting exercise.......but the BEST part of biking is that my commute is only 10 minutes!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another year older

Look who turned Four........

I can't believe it has been 4 years since I received these sweet little creatures. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Oh what anxious new mommy I see Abby and Chloe were my first true pets!

They are wonderful and I just love their personalities. Each one is so affectionate. Abby is always standing at the door when I come home...ready to flop onto her back so I can give her a belly rub......and Chloe well not a night goes by that she doesn't sleep right next to me. I love having pets....I love the energy they bring into a house. These four years have gone by so quickly.....I am looking forward to many more!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mt. Rainier National Park

My friend Sarah and I made plans to go on a backpacking trip this summer. When we started talking about it in early July we both had the same destinations picked out...Mt. Rainier or the Olympic Peninsula. Both of these destinations are breathtaking and I personally had yet to be to either one. We decided on Mt. Rainier and the planning began! Well sort of.......I think Sarah and I spent maybe 20 minutes planning this trip. We went to Barnes and Noble took some books off the shelf and looked through them. Quickly we had picked our spot. The one thing we did change was we decided to NOT go backpacking but to camp instead. We made that decision mostly because we wanted more of a "vacation" and camping would allow us to bring all kinds of things....where backpacking...well you have to be much more selective as you are carrying all your crap on your back!

So we made our plans that day. The two of us are very "Type A" personalities so between the both of us we had all bases covered. We planned to camp for 3 nights at the White River campground on the Northeast side of the park. We would do 3 hikes while we were there. Easy...hard ...then a moderate one. We were all set! We left on a Wednesday morning. The weather was perfect and lucky for us it stayed that way for the entire trip.

Here is our campground. We scored such a great site! It was away from the road and there was quite a bit of room between ourselves and the sites next to us. We did pretty well with camp set up.....I was using a tent that was "new" to me. Sarah and I struggled a bit with it and I am pretty sure we didn't get it up 100% correctly but it stayed up the whole time!

Ahh...not the best quality is Sarah making dinner. Let me tell you we ate like kings. Well according to Sarah. I grew up car camping and we always ate very well when camping ( thank you Dalene!) so I don't know any different. We had chicken, steak and veggies for dinner......eggs, blueberry pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Apples....cherries....cantaloupe for snacks. Then of course no vacation is complete without happy we had wine each night along with cheese, crackers and Salami. The only tricky part to eating was building the campfire. Sarah had never done it before....and well I should probably know how to do this and in my mind I thought I did (easy....newspaper, twigs, log and a match) it turned out to be a bit more difficult than either of us expected. We got it the first night.......the second night which was steak night we didn't end up eating until almost 11pm because we just couldn't get the fire started.......and the third night I sucked it up and asked our wonderful neighbor Jim to come and give us a tutorial on it. That was so helpful and I am proud to say I know how to get a fire started. On a side note...I did think the pieces of wood we had were too big and that is why the fire wasn't catching....come to find out I was right. On my list of camp supplies that needs to be purchased an axe to chop wood.

After getting camp set up we headed out for our first hike. We went up to the Sunrise Lodge. Talked to a very helpful ranger who graciously told us a great hike to do. We set out on our 4.5 mile hike. Although relatively easy in terms of elevation was hard to get acclimated to the elevation gain in general. We had gone from Sea level to over 7,000 feet in less than a day. Needless to say I had a hard time breathing. Here is a mini lake we saw on our hike.

Day 2 we did the Summerland hike. This hike was 8.5 miles and an elevation gain of 2100 feet. This was our "hard" hike. This picture is taken on the trail. So many times throughout this trip I was wishing I had a "real" camera. The wildflowers were beyond beautiful. They were everywhere many colors......and yet my camera just didn't capture it completely. Someday!

Summerland is one of the most popular hikes in Mt. Rainier. In this picture you can see why.....such a great view of the mountain. I also have to say this was the first time I had ever camped in a National Park...and well it is sooo nice. The trails are clearly marked...even the back country trails. When we got to the top of this hike we both had to use the restroom......well lucky for us this has a back country campground and they had a bathroom....with hand sanitizer in it! Yippee! Now I know not all back country sites are like that.....but it was pretty impressive.

Day 3 we did the Naches Peak Loop. This hike was 4.5 miles. (I have to say I am very proud of us we hiked nearly 18 miles on this trip) I love this picture as the mountain ranges look like they go on forever. Sarah made fun of me most of the trip as I am the nerd with the map trying to figure out what mountain was what..... I wanted to know all the names and where we were in location to Mt. Rainier. I was such a student!

Here we are! Great view of Mt. Rainier...except the clouds are in the way. That is how it was a majority of the trip. The clouds just love to hang out around the top of Rainier. It makes the mountain very mysterious.

Our trip was wonderful. I am such a nature girl and find that I feel my absolute best when outside...camping and hiking. I love at end of the day when you have finished a hike and you are covered in sunscreen....bug repellent...and dirt.....and how just a tiny bit of water and quick scrub with a baby wipe can leave you feeling clean and refreshed. I love that in the National Parks they do Ranger talks at night. I love the slow pace of camping and how the rhythm of the day revolves around cooking meals... cleaning dishes...and heading out for a hike. I love sitting in a camp chair in the late afternoon reading a book. I love watching the camp fire at night. My all time hands down most favorite part of camping (and this can only happen when you have nice weather) is going to sleep at night with the rain fly off and being able to look up at the stars while you are falling asleep. It just doesn't get any better than that!