Getting Away is Good

Tom and I are visiting his mom who lives on Tybee Island, GA. We come every year to visit her and to get our “beach fix.” I have been to many beaches, but none draws me back like Tybee. The island remains untouched by fast food chains and high rise resort hotels. It is small enough to ride bikes from one end to the other and from ocean to marsh. We bike for milk shakes in the afternoon and margaritas in the evening. I love to bike for food.


At Tybee the tides dictate the day. They must be consulted before venturing very far. Rip tides are common. Going to dinner by boat is cancelled due to it being “dead low” tide. You can get stranded or worse on Little Tybee, an island that exists only at low tide. The ocean here is unpredictable and often dangerous. She demands my respect.


So, for my 5th year in a row, I find myself being with this beach, versus on it. I  feel that subtle difference. This beach is a teacher and I am her willing student. Hers, of course, are not new lessons. Nothing is new, just restated. Sometimes though, when It is restated, I remember.


I offer to you what I learn and relearn every time I am here.




The thing I love about Tybee is the beach changes dramatically with the tides. At low tide little islands emerge from the sea, inviting us to explore them. We just have to walk or swim to get to them. For the last two days, Tom and I have explored these temporary islands. The newly exposed sand is unpredictable. Some stretches are like walking on concrete, sending shock waves up my spine. Other spots are soft, treacherous quick sand reminding me of a Johnny Weismiller Tarzan episode in which he rescues Jane from her near death. Then there are the deeply ridged areas that just plain hurt to walk on (I tried to tell myself it was like reflexology, but it isn’t.)


As we traverse these newly presented sand masses, checking the tidal pools like treasure chests full with sand dollars, sting rays, crabs, or flounder, my attention is captured by the amazingly beautiful terrain. The contours and colors are works of art. I am inspired and in awe. Natures art. It is simply breath. Tom and I discuss theories of a higher power being responsible for this beauty and/or the natural elements of water, sand and tide creating this art independently and exclusively. As our conversation wanes, the origin of this beauty no longer of interest, we drop our need for intellectual conclusions, that drain the beauty of a sunset, and enjoy not knowing.





Continuing in the same vein…or ocean if you will…walking these low tide exposed beaches is a moment in time that will never be repeated. I will never walk on the same land mass again. Tomorrow it will be a different walk, with different pools and mounds. Different sea life resting in the deep pools, waiting for the tide to rise again to carry them back to the ocean. Tonight, where we walked will be ocean again. Our footsteps long gone, unnoticed and unimportant in the life of this island. I am comforted and distressed by this knowing. And, truth be told, what I feel about it doesn’t matter. It will still be different tomorrow when we walk, whether I like or not.




In one of the deeper channels we floated. Heads back, arms out. Tom started it. I found him floating (he was so relaxed it was a good thing he was face up or I would have been scared). I have always loved to float, it is the ultimate letting go.  I grew up on a lake in NJ and raised my kids on a lake in western PA. I discovered, early in my life, floating was the antidote to stress. There were many dynamics to manage in my family of origin; watching my back (because no one else would), keeping the peace, and hearing the unspoken so I could avoid the ensuing ship wreck. The lake always saved me. When I got on the water I let go. I trusted the water had me, and it always did, as long as I let it have me. (If you resist the water you will sink AND if you don’t breathe while you float you will sink as well-good to know.)


So today, on this magical, space-in-time island, I knew I wanted to float. I knew I needed to float, to allow my body to yield to the water. I needed to let go of my management of my life, my expectations of myself, of others, my illusions of control, my disappointments. I walked into the water, my mind taking a minute to adjust to what it needs to do-get the hell out of the way- and laid back. A minute later I am floating, breathing deeply, arms out, head and neck held by the water, floating. I feel my yield in every cell of my body, I find my faith in the water to hold me, to not let me go or drop me. I trust the water. It has me and that is a really good feeling. My body needed to float so I could remember.


When I put my feet to sand again, my shoulders are dropped, my back looser, my  breathing easier and my body satisfied. It is necessary to feel well held in order to let go.

Work It by Paula Martinac

Paula is a guest writer who responded to the  Audience Participation invitation.  Read more by Paula on NutritionU


In the whole maddening “conversation” about the health-care bill now under scrutiny by the Supreme Court, I realize that the most important thing to me is health. Not just mine, but my partner’s… my dog’s… my biological family’s… my clients’… my friends’… I even care about the health of people I’ve never met!


I’m now blessed with good help, to use a common expression. Because it IS a “blessing,” as those of us who’ve been seriously, life-threateningly illness can tell you. A lot of people take their health for granted until they reach that “life-threatening” point. If you get a second chance, as I did, you start to think a lot about what you might have done differently, what you might have done earlier. You start to want to encourage others to think about it, too.


So here’s my spiel. Continue Reading

I Love My Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”


I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”


Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?


As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to… Continue Reading

Notice, Notice, Notice

Since I did so well with the 21 day meditation challenge, I signed up for an 8 week mindfulness meditation class at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC based on the work of Jon Kabot-Zinn. It is all about noticing. Not changing, just noticing.


I had wanted to take this class for a long time. Despite that I still felt uncertain if I should follow through after attending the introductory class. I told myself the class was going to be too big. I was going to be too tired. I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t practice anyway, that it would be another thing I tried and then forgot.


I couldn’t make my mind up and I didn’t know how to decide. As I looked over the materials given in the intro class, it said a symptom of stress was not being able to make up your mind…hmmmm.


I decided to take the class. Continue Reading


I started a 21 day meditation challenge offered free by the Chopra Center.

Today’s meditation was on stress. It is day 4.

The meditation teacher, a soft spoken woman, asks, “Are you feeling a sense of worry, agitation, or frustration? (Now that you mention it, I am.) Release those feelings, thoughts, and sensations. (Okay, how?) Let them float away, easily and effortlessly.(Come again?).” She then invited me to sit in my silence created by my ability to let my stress go easily and effortlessly.


“If I could do that, easily and effortlessly, I wouldn’t be listening to this meditation.” I sat in silent judgment, irritation and frustration with this woman and the meditation. I tightened my butt and thighs, squared my jaw, and trapped my breath in my chest.

“Was she serious? This is not helpful at all. At least give me some ideas how to let my stress fucking float away!”


As I noticed my outrage, I felt it in every part of me and I immediately felt tired. I felt tired of me. Tired of my rant, of my indignation, I ran out of steam and just shut up.

When I shut up, I found my silence. I began to relax my butt, my jaw, and take a deeper breath.

A lesson well learned.


More From the Couch



Many of you may remember I started this blog with the story of my couch. Did I deserve it or did I want it? My couch.


I am very sorry to report I have been unhappy with my couch since I got it a year and a half ago. The problem? It was the most uncomfortable couch I had ever sat on. Well, no, I take that back, I remember sitting on couches at fraternity parties that were equally as uncomfortable. When I sat on my coveted new couch my butt sunk 6 inches below my knees. It was like I was sitting in a hole. I had to hoist myself off the couch (no pun intended-but it is a good one) by rocking back and forth to gain momentum and then heave my butt forward on the up swing to get out. Not only did I feel ridiculous, it was embarrassing. I was so disappointed in my new couch. 


I tried very hard to like my expensive, beautiful couch. I assumed, as I often do “It must be me.” Continue Reading

Mr. Volvo

The other morning Tom and I were headed to work.  We have been riding together since Tom’s car was totaled, Halloween morning, by a young kid who ran a red light. Since then we have been a one car family. At first this was very difficult for me. Truth be told, I hated it. I liked my time in the car alone. I could drive in silence, listen to music, a book or a conference on CD. My choice. I usually used the time to think, take stock. With Tom in the car it wasn’t my space anymore. However, during some of our morning commutes we had great conversation, caught up on things with each other, or made plans for the evening or week. Sometimes it was really nice. I enjoyed our company. So both experiences were true for me.



Anyway, this particular morning, as we headed up Bigelow Blvd traffic began to slow. It was still moving but slower than usual. Ahead of us I noticed an older Volvo, changing lanes, speeding up only to have to brake because both lanes were moving slowly, and honking his horn. At one point he was waving his arms in the air above his head. I wondered who was steering his car. He was clearly upset. Being the well trained defensive driver(thank you Mr Anderson) that I am, I tried to determine what had Mr Volvo so upset. Was he seeing something dangerous I wasn’t aware of? My assessment of the situation was that everyone was going slower, but at a constant rate of speed. Odd for this stretch of the road, but not dangerous to me.


I commented to Tom, “This guy is really upset.” Continue Reading

The Law of Attraction

I recently re watched The Secret, a documentary made several years ago explaining the Law of Attraction. Watching it I was reminded that what we think about and, even more so, what we feel is what we attract to ourselves. In the film a philosopher, an

entrepreneur, a physicist, and an author discuss the theory, as well as, share ways they practice the Law of Attraction in their daily lives. They tell their success stories, from manifesting a dream house to attracting checks coming in the mail.


Okay, I get it and I believe it. I have experienced it my life. I attracted the life I am living today. I did dream boards and collages of the places I wanted to travel, the man I wanted to meet, the “feel” of the life I wanted to live. I held clear intentions that the sale of the family home would go smoothly and afford me some retirement money. I envisioned writing (and being read) on a regular basis. Voila!


This shit works!


So when I heard about the man at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas who had a heart attack while eating a Triple By Pass Burger I recognized the Law of Attraction at work. The restaurant is hospital-themed, where wait staff wear white coats with stethoscopes casually around their necks and diners don hospital gowns. Some witness’s to the event mistook it for a publicity stunt and were taking pictures. 


I don’t know how to feel about this. Should I laugh or cry?


I did both.


We, and I include myself in that we, are so powerful and so careless.

The Queen of England

Today I got a massage and facial. As I relaxed; steam opening my pores, Audra’s fairy fingers making gentle circles around my eyes; I began to count my blessings. When I left the house this morning our housekeeper was pulling into the driveway. Last night I ordered a great pair of shoes from the Travel Smith catalogue. Tomorrow I have an acupuncture appointment. Next week I have a manicure and pedicure scheduled. I am the luckiest woman alive!


Then it hit. My gratitude turned to shame, “Who do I think I am? Really? Who? The Queen of England? I don’t dare tell anyone about all this.” I felt terrible, indulgent, spoiled, after all, there are children starving in Africa. Continue Reading

It’s Just Not Right…

I grew up with my mom telling me to, “Watch your mouth!”  She hated when I said I hated something, when I sang at the dinner table, or told her I couldn’t see my mouth so I couldn’t possibly watch it. She even washed my mouth out with soap once. I don’t remember what I said, but the next day I got tonsillitis and my grandmother blamed my mother for giving it to me. I was vindicated.


I did, for the most part, try to please my mom. I watched what I said and did. I became so good at it that I developed TMJ before it was called TMJ. My parents thought it was normal that I had to hit the side of my face to get my jaw to open in the morning to eat my Special K cereal.


I don’t imagine this was so unusual for those of us raised in the late 50’s-60’s. We were managed to be polite extensions of our parents. It was our job to make them look better than they felt about themselves. Especially us girls.


It’s a hard habit to break, this watching your mouth. “What if I offend somebody?” I would worry. My mom told me the reason a boy I liked didn’t call me again is because I told him a story using the word “poop.” She said, “No boy would want to date a girl with a mouth like that.” Fuck.


It seems the older I get the less I watch my mouth and the more I speak my mind. I am a lot less tolerant of what I see and experience. I am “mouthier” these days because some things need to be said. I started a list… Continue Reading