Ouch, My Aching Back!!!

My lower back issues began in 1991 when two friends and I decided to skip Senior Prom and enjoy an adventure in northern Michigan. Unfortunately, my adventure ended with a horse back riding accident at the Caple’s Ranch. Ever since, I struggle with regular lower back issues, at times requiring over a week of bed rest. Over the years, I have tried many remedies, some helpful, some not so much. Below are a few regular treatments/life habits with which I found success:

A Relaxing Night’s Sleep: How many times have you started the day with a sore back? Is your bed the cause? 1/3 of your life is spent in bed. Make an investment in a supportive mattress and pillow. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees also takes pressure off the lower back.

Hourly Movement: Do you spend most of the day sitting? Does standing up cause pain? If so, commit to getting up every hour during the day and walking for a few minutes. We aren’t meant to sit all day (Yes, that includes sitting at home watching TV). Hourly movement can reduce soreness.

Acupuncture: I’ve received acupuncture for over 15 years. A traditional 45 minute treatment relaxes and refreshes the entire body. I also found relief in placebo needle placement. Several times, my acupuncturist inserted needles where I had pain, greatly relieving the tenderness.

Ice/Heat: 20 minutes of icing the lower back, immediately followed by 20 minutes on the heating pad works wonders.

Flexibility and Core Work: Commit several times per week to leg and back stretches and core strengthening. You may find this website a helpful start.

Donut Pillow: While a bit embarrassing at first, the donut pillow places extra pressure on the glutes, relieving lower back tension. I keep one in my car and at home. Here’s a more discreet covered pillow.

Massage: Massage can ease tight muscles. Request extra work on the IT Band. Many lower back issues can be linked to tight or weak hips.

Resistance Bands: Speaking of hip issues, utilizing resistance bands can calm the IT Band and strengthen the hips. An appointment with a physical therapist often includes resistance bands to take home and a set of hip strengthening exercises. Make those exercises part of your regular routine!

Remember to use caution and keep in contact with your health care provider when adding a new activity into your regimen.

Thanks for reading!

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The Parting Glass for Year’s End

The new year approaches quickly! A few months ago, a co-worker suggested instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we should begin a challenge in November. We started a walking goal to complete by Christmas. Many students and instructors offered encouragement as we walked laps around the parking lot or strolled the halls on our breaks. We were excited to reach our goal on the last day before vacation! After we return from break, a new challenge begins!

What are your goals for 2019? I’m focusing on activities that improve the mind, body, and spirit: Exercise challenges, meditation, reading (starting with Lewis’ Mere Christianity), singing at the Commission on Aging, and performing with Kilkenny Corkers.

Below is a New Year’s Gift for our fans-Slainte!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Follow Kilkenny Corkers on Facebook for videos, concert dates, and other bits of “craic!”

Turkey Day with a Side of Mercy

While it always hurts to come across hateful comments about my father on social media, last month, I started receiving such comments on my personal accounts. Anger has often been my initial response in such situations. Recently, I did something unexpected, I paused and remembered a song I was learning, a song about mercy and how we all could use it.

I changed my focus and quickly recognized both the hate and pain surging through this troubled individual. The prudent option here was to ignore what was not really an attack, but an individual in pain, lashing out; in addition, adjusting my thinking helped me deal with such posts. I wondered where else “mercy” was needed…

Every semester, I perform for the Music Appreciation class at the college. This time, in addition to the usual presentation about oral tradition and Appalachian folk music, I added a current song I was learning. While the song is still in need of a final polish (and an amp for the strumstick), it felt right to sing about mercy. This holiday season, in addition to thankfulness, where do you need to show mercy? Is there a rift from long ago in need of attention? Are you still avoiding family members with differing political views? Perhaps it’s time to “mend the bond.”

Thanks for reading and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Time to stock up on Lip Balm!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/229658359/set-of-4-all-natural-beeswax-lip-balms

A Grand Weekend

Last month, I tagged along with Chad while he attended a work conference on Mackinac Island. This lovely historic landmark encourages visitors to slow down and relax. Visitors travel the island with bikes, horses, or on foot, no cars allowed. Horse drawn taxis wait near the ferry to slowly take travelers to their destination.

We had the opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel. While my husband would rather enjoy a bonfire by a hunting shack, he was so moved by the bright florals and broad stripes in this Victorian Hotel that upon entering our room, he said, “It looks like a clown threw up in here!” 🙂

I have fond memories staying at the Grand Hotel on one special occasion as a child. My parents attended a work conference the same weekend as my sister’s birthday. She was surprised with birthday cake in the Grand dining room, and Gordon MacRae sang Happy Birthday to her. From that moment on, I wanted to celebrate a birthday in the same way!! For years, as a child, I believed my parents’ white lie that we couldn’t go to Mackinac in May because the Straits were still frozen over. In reality, my parents always worked the weekend of my birthday as it was Hillsdale College’s Commencement.

My favorite activity on the island is renting a bike and enjoying the 8.2 mile trip round. Other pleasant activities include browsing the many shops on Main Street, sampling the island’s famous fudge, and watching the sunset on the world’s largest porch at the Grand Hotel.

Planked Whitefish at The Village Inn (just off the Main Street through town)

Enjoying the beautiful views from The Yacht Club

An evening at the Pink Pony

No trip to Mackinac is complete without a visit to the local fishery just outside Mackinac City to bring home whitefish.

Thanks for reading!

What’s a Galette?

Paul, my Farmers’ Market neighbor, is quite the adventurous curmudgeon. A retired house painter, turned baker, he often shares stories about fly-fishing in the western US or sailing our Great Lakes. Paul also has a side-gig in retirement, baking delicious breads and cookies prepared in his homemade, outdoor, wood-fired oven. Last year, he started offering peach galettes, a rustic French pastry. After trying one, Chad and I added this tasty treat to our baking regimen. Here’s our version:

This Peach Galette can quickly be prepared with minimal effort:

  • Place a prepared pie crust on a baking sheet
  • Mix 1/2 tablespoon of flour, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon in a bowl
  • Gently toss peach slices (approx 2-3 large, fresh peaches, peeled and sliced) in mixture and spread in middle of pie crust (allow a 2-3 inch circle of pie crust around the outside)
  • Begin folding the pie crust around the edge, until completing the circle
  • Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before eating, pairs well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream

Looking for other recipe ideas? Try apples or a savory spinach and feta galette…we’re going to try a tourtiere galette this winter.

Note: Unused portions should be covered, refrigerated, and enjoyed within 3 days.

Thanks for reading!

A Badger and a Cheesehead Walk into a Supper Club…

Chad and I recently enjoyed a vacation in Wisconsin. We boarded the S.S. Badger in Ludington, MI and traveled across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, WI. The four hour voyage includes activities for the whole family: Games, food, movies, children’s activities, cocktails for the adults, etc. Passengers can sit below deck, walk laps around the ship, or enjoy a lounge chair on the front deck. The cost (including a vehicle) is comparable to fuel prices for travelers driving around the lake. The trip provides a memorable adventure, though Chad thinks this counts as a cruise (I disagree).

Our first stop was Milwaukee, specifically the Harley Davidson Museum. Visitors can experience riding a new Harley (even without a license).

The museum offered insight into the humble beginnings of this company, the strategic planning to survive the Great Depression, their role in WWII, motorcycles in the movies, something for everyone!

We enjoyed a wine tasting and purchased some smoked whitefish at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Later, we had time to visit the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Museum in Oshkosh. Founded by Paul Poberezny in the 1950s, the museum is a tribute to the air craft “gear heads,” passionate home builders and restorers. This site also hosts a spectacular air show each July.

The Curtiss “Jenny,” America’s first mass produced aircraft, this one was found in an old barn.

The EAA Museum also has quite the collection of WWII airplane art.

My favorite location was Port Washington! This quiet port city offers local wine, an amazing smoked fish house, lovely shops, and miles of beautiful lakeside trails.

A fun bike shop for fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Near the end of our trip, I had the opportunity to sing at the local Supper Club.

For those in the Midwest, Wisconsin has many lovely destinations, worthy of a long, weekend road trip.

Thanks for reading!

Family, Church, and Local Community College

During my first year of college, Dr. John Willson’s history class mapped a substantial portion of America’s history through study of “Family, Church, and Local Community.” Expanding on Dr. Willson’s famous phrase, I observed a connection to education. Last fall, I accepted a part-time position as afternoon secretary at Kellogg Community College’s Fehsenfeld Center. To be completely honest, I questioned whether I should instead pursue a full time teaching position. However, I recognized something special here.

I first began working at the Fehsenfeld Center in the fall of 1996, teaching Transitional English and serving as a paraprofessional. Teaching at this level improved my understanding of the writing process. If students could master a quality paragraph, they could readily transition to the college essay. This experience served me well when later teaching Freshman Composition. I also met fellow instructors; many were members of the local community: Lawyers, high school teachers, business and community leaders, etc. They offered a unique combination of education paired with real world experience.

The Fehsenfeld Center also brings in a lively group of local students who, year after year, often form a learning community. Many become friends, form study groups, and succeed together. As an Adjunct Instructor for the past two decades, I was already part of this process; however, I wanted more. My brother once shared that secretaries are the sergeants of an institution; without their leadership, facilities could not function effectively. In addition to time in the classroom, I discovered that assisting students in the office often increased the classroom connection. I enjoy hearing about their current semesters and future plans, providing assistance if they are feeling frustrated and need a small nudge, perhaps a starting point for an assignment, someone to help brainstorm summer options, or just an ear to listen.

The Fehsenfeld Center offers a unique learning experience for the residents of Barry County:

• Want to complete core classes close to home and transfer to a four year institution? Did you know that 4 out of 10 students who earn a four year degree begin at their local community college? (insidehighered.com)

• Want to pursue a class or two at an affordable price and see if college is the next step?

• Interested in learning a trade? Come learn about our welding and manufacturing programs.

• Want to explore special interest classes? Perhaps you might enjoy Pastor Anton’s Life Long Learning Class, The Bible: A Closer Look.

• Want to earn an associate’s degree and take on the world?

Come see me in the office!

Thanks for reading!