Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Think Warm-Think Earth Festival

It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival Art Blooms Earth Day - Color - TEXT - Copytakes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s EF2012_20120428_23 - CopyCloset (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items  – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.

We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second EF2012_20120428_03 - Copyplant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the  garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.

EF2012_20120428_59 - CopyWe’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful workEF2012_20120428_19 - Copys on display in competition and art-for-purchase.

To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.

If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to www.sustainablecherryhill.org and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.

EF2012_20120428_99 - CopyAnd…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.

As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.

Unfreezing the Shoulder

The “Year of Living Gingerly” has ended for me – thanks in part to Meryl Goldstein, Erin, Mark and Rachel at Excel Physical Therapy in Cherry Hill.

I’m not a whiner, but it really annoys me that my body just can’t keep up with my mind these days. The pains of 2011 are fading away. I hope for a much healthier 2012.

During May & June, Excel’s former therapist, Jeff, coached my through PT following a total right hip replacement at the age of 52. I came through that with flying colors thanks to all of the exercises and therapy Jeff and the staff gave me during that period. Plus, it always helps to be vigilant with therapy even when you are not at the Excel office.

By fall, the more painful of my afflictions, “frozen shoulder” brought me back to Excel. After my orthopedist prescribed therapy, Meryl explained the phases of frozen shoulder – freezing, frozen and thawing. To some degree, I was fortunate since my left shoulder was not completely frozen. The learning curve on solving this problem was painful and I had to again be vigilant in my therapy sessions and exercising outside of therapy to bring my left shoulder back to health.

Twice a week for just over two months, I arrived at PT to experience what I affectionately called “Torture by Meryl.” Erin or Mark would oversee my slate of exercises, and then Meryl’s magical hands and fingers would dig into every part of my upper arm, shoulder and back to get everything moving. That’s when the pain was sometimes blinding. The “cracks” and “pops” from inside my left shoulder and back were sometimes frightening. What was at times worse, knowing how hard Meryl was working on me and that it hurt her as much as it hurt me.

All this was for the greater good. I was released by my doctor exactly two months after I was first seen by him and ended physical therapy a few days later. Meryl says my shoulder is extremely functional; I have regained a lot of strength and mobility. I will continue my exercises and will faithfully follow the stretching and strengthening sketches on the Excel sheets Meryl & Erin supplied.

What Meryl and the staff do for the patients is amazing. They expertly assess each person and compassionately work with each person encouraging them on even just a speck of improvement. I hope I don’t have to see Meryl ever again – and I say that with great affection. If I do need therapy again, I will return to Team Meryl.

The Year of Living Gingerly

I have this thing – I like even numbers; 2011 is not an even number. Despite the pains of 2011, the year is turning out OK after all.

Let’s get the pain out-of-the-way: about four years of pain led to a right hip replacement in May 2011. Just a few weeks of therapy led to a nearly perfect summer. Then, I tumbled down the steps of our vacation house in New Hampshire and punctured my face on some boating gear at the bottom of the steps. Four doctors and many antibiotics later and the clutz who is me – healed. Finally, in my left shoulder diagnosed as frozen shoulder – has led to

Adam & his electric razor - wasn't he just needing a pacifier?

weeks and weeks of therapy that will lead into 2012 – but I’ll be fine. What is frozen shoulder? Women of a certain age can develop this real pain-in-the-joint affliction; some men and diabetics can develop frozen shoulder as well. The ligaments and tendons literally freeze which leads to restricted mobility. Try reaching up for a plate in the kitchen cabinet or scratching your back with the affected arm. You quickly learn the stages of frozen shoulder: freezing, frozen and thawing. I got to the doctor and physical therapist during the freezing stage. Now, I’m thawing. Thank you Meryl Goldstein, physical therapist at Excel in Cherry Hill. While the therapy is extremely painful – for her as well as me – I’m about 80% cured. Woo-hoo!

Enough of the pain already! Emotional pain has been the hallmark of our son’s senior year in high school. Adam is a bright, happy, overall well-adjusted young man. He’s just not as enthusiastic about life as perhaps he should be at this critical stage of his life. Senior year in high school means applying to colleges, financial aid applications, boy scout eagle project responsibilities and many other details. Detail-oriented – he is not. I constantly struggle over pushing him to get things done to completely backing off and letting him fail. Either one of these options is not the way to go. Striking the balance is extremely emotional. Somehow, I know Adam will succeed and do very well wherever his college career and career path leads.

Do you spend time looking at yourself from a distance? I wonder how I’m going to turn out; how my relationship with my husband will evolve and adjust; which hair color to choose. The thoughts go much deeper than a hair color, but I do spend time late at night or early in the morning thinking about my mortality. That’s pretty painful.

So how are things, really? I must be thankful and grateful for so many blessings: my family – both sides – and all their accomplishments and growth. I became a great-aunt late last year so I have a new family member to get to know. My physical fitness is definitely on the rise; my trips to the gym (and physical therapy) keep my head clear most days. When you see people at the gym who are a decade or two older than you and still getting there every day, you have to at least keep up.

Seeing the stories of our returning troops makes me wonder how they will spend the next year or two or longer adjusting to their stateside lives. The turbulent economy and changes in their families has to be stressful. In the end, I hope they find peace and happiness in their lives and know that so many of us are ever grateful for their service. I want to do something in 2012 to help as our service people return home.

As we opened our Christmas gifts this morning, I couldn’t help but remember that it seemed like a minute ago when my son was spitting up on my shoulder. Today, his favorite gift was the electric shaver we got him. Hearing the whir of the shaver made me nostalgic for the Christmas morning we spent wrestling with the hermetically packaged toys that needed assembly and running around looking for the right sized batteries to make the toys work.

The roast will go in the oven soon and the family will gather again for another Christmas. After the leftovers are put away and the last holiday light goes out, I wish for all the family and friends near and far a much less painful and much more happy New Year.

Summer Adventures -(or how to lose more than 2 pounds in a week)

More than likely, you can’t lose 2.4 pounds in a week without really trying, but it IS a great feat to accomplish in the middle of a holiday weekend. All I can say is – go to the gym – faithfully and eat oatmeal! Other than that, I’m shocked the scale told the story of a wonderful holiday weekend and week.

Our visit to Chesapeake Bay and the North East, Maryland area was outstanding. The joy in Doug’s face as we motored around the head of the Chesapeake and discovered new places to explore was inspiring. We anchored for a few hours around a small island off Havre de Grace, MD and by the time we pulled up anchor, there were well over 60 boats partying in the afternoon breeze (and it was quite breezy!). We took in the local flavors, enjoying crab cakes and fresh salads and the gracious, almost southern, hospitality.

Doug naps after sailing.

After sweating at the gym early Sunday, we headed to Brigantine. July 4th in Brigantine was a scorcher. Those stuck inland really sweated it out, but the sea breeze brought relief and with that, relaxation. Doug and cousin

A.C. fireworks 2010

Sean got a great sail in on the catamaran. It was a bit rocky for me. Dinner with Sean and Shelley was a comfortable affair with their home cooked turkey breast, fresh corn and salad. We went to Sea Point on the inlet between Brigantine and Atlantic City to watch the fireworks, courtesy of the casinos (glad the gambling profits provide a little “free” enjoyment and recreation for some!). After a night’s sleep, we took a long morning walk on the beach, then headed home to collapse.

The rest of the week has been quite busy with work for my business. Despite a busy work schedule, I managed three mornings at the gym this week and three oatmeal breakfasts. I carefully tracked what I ate this week and even over the holiday weekend so I was very careful. The efforts paid off when I hit the scale after the gym this morning with a 2.4 pound loss from last week. Woo-hoo! While staying physically fit is a major goal, losing some weight is also important to me. I’ve been stuck in a plateau for days, and it’s good to see strong efforts pay off.

Now, staying focused with a fair amount of work ahead and the fall semester at Rutgers closing in, I work toward August vacation. While I’ll have to do some work during the two weeks away, I’ll continue the fitness and health efforts that have been paying off.

Never give up!

Making Progress

Winter can be a dark hole. The daytime hours are so short. before you know it, you’re looking out the kitchen window into the black hole of winter. Now the holiday lights are just about gone, it feels as though it’ll be dark until the end of March when daylight saving time kicks in again. So, how do you get through these short days and long nights? Plan for something — anything. Maybe it’s a great work project you’ve been putting off or something fun like a party or better yet, a vacation.

It seems we always plan our vacations in the winter. It’s very smart, because we always have something positive to thing about and look forward to. Not only is there vacation to get ready for this year, but the launch of our unofficially named vessel, “Mid-Life Cri-Seas.”

Mid-Life Cri-Seas is wrapped up for winter

(Doug had better come up with a better name, because that one is really starting to stick.) I have promised Doug I will get my boating license so I can help him navigate the boat when he wants to water ski. That’s on the winter to-do list for the coming weeks.

I’m also on a mission to stay fit and gosh is that getting more difficult. It seems as though my body wants to fight me every step of the way, but I’m kicking and screaming back at my body every step of the way. My lousy left knee and funky right hip (especially the hip) want to ache and moan as I get on that elliptical two or three mornings a week, but I won’t give up. When I had some personal training sessions for a birthday present a couple of years ago, he recommended this sort of massage gizmo that you use to massage out your muscles. I pulled my quadriceps  last week and thought between that and my right hip I would be on crutches the rest of my life. Well, I used that massage gizmo and “poof” – my quadriceps is better and my hip is not bothering me.

What’s next? Well, the What’s Next Productions, LLC web site is finally up. It’s nothing fancy, but the basics of my consulting services are there along with success stories I’ve managed to carry out for clients in the past months. I also put up a What’s Next Productions Facebook page. Thanks to the “fans” for checking out my page.

Now, if I could only kick my craving for those holiday cookies I baked. Heck, I’ll just have some of that sweet cantaloupe in the refrigerator. Healthy means happy!