Learn Something New

Expanding one’s mind keeps it healthy and active, and helps stave off the aging process.

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I have said for years that I try to learn something new every day. I firmly believe that learning doesn’t stop just because you are not school. You should invest in yourself and your interests. Expanding one’s mind keeps it healthy and active, and helps stave off the aging process.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” ~ Brian Herbert

So when I wrapped up my nine-month Leadership Garland class, it was time to do something completely different. I have always loved photography and never taken enough time to really learn how to use my dSLR, so I enrolled in Basic Digital Photography at the local community college.  Learning how to operate the camera out of “Automatic” mode where I can control the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture is a bit daunting to say the least.

First class we were told to read the camera manual and familiarize ourselves with our camera. Well with a full-time job and fibromyalgia, I was quite frankly exhausted and two days wasn’t enough time. So I winged it. Second class we got our first assignment – bring in 4 photographs that are properly exposed. We had a weekend to do it. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well I took probably close to 100 shots to get a few that I liked. We had wind and clouds and nothing cooperated. Here’s my first submission.

I am excited about learning how to better control my camera and getting out to take some more pictures. I am trying to figuring out what I want to do when I retire in a few years, so photography will hopefully play into it some. The last few years I typically tweet inspirational quotes, and I have taken a few of my pictures and combined them with those, so perhaps I am on to something. But for now, it’s just a hobby and something new for me to learn.

So what do you think? Do you like any of these? Do you have a hobby or skill you are trying to learn?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Your Voice Matters

For those of us who live with fibromyalgia, we are painfully aware of it every day. But this year May 12 has been designated to educate others. The theme this year is “Your Voice Matters” to call attention to the fact that everyone has a say in education, awareness, and making changes to help those who suffer from chronic pain. fibro3

What it Is

As I described in an earlier post, extreme fatigue, sleeping issues, and that “I-just-got-run-over-by-a-Mack-truck” feeling are the most prevalent symptoms for me.  Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
  • Constant dull ache on both sides of the body and above and below the waist
  • Tension headaches
  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Depression

Fibromyalgia is the second most ailment affecting the musculoskeletal system after osteoporosis.  Source: http://www.ecarediary.com/Blog2713

Sounds great, huh?  Lucky me, as I have both!  Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2000 and with Osteoporosis in 2015. I know and live with chronic pain, but try my best not to let it get me down or slow me down. And then there are all of the other weird ailments that get lumped in with this condition, for lack of any other explanation. There’s a very good list by Sophie at Fibro Diaries that lists 100 different symptoms. I have probably had most of them at one point.
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More Reading

So in the spirit of helping with awareness, here are some other websites and bloggers I like, that write about life with fibromyalgia:

  • Periwinkle Pursuits where Rene writes about life with fibromyalgia
  • Counting My Spoons where fellow fibro-warrior Julie writes to educate others on many health issues
  • Chronicles of Fibromyalgia where Leah shares her fibro journey and struggles
  • Dr. Murphree’s site has good information on the condition; listen to one of his conference calls
  • Read my earlier post of how I cope – healthy lifestyle choices are the best methods for me and I feel it when I make bad eating choices or have high stress levels

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My Voice Matters

Hopefully I have provided *a little* awareness on this “invisible” condition. So the next time I seem a little grumpy or am moving slowly, it’s probably because when I crawled out of bed and kicked fibromyalgia in the butt that morning, it kicked back.

Do you have any good resources for fibromyaglia or coping with chronic pain to share?

Cheers!

Cynthia

The End Results

One Day. Many Hands. Side by Side.

Last week I wrote about my week leading up to “Garland Gives” day with my leadership class GG-KickoffLeadership Garland 35.  To quote the program’s Executive Director, Jan Furtick, “I feel like a proud mom today. With about 140 volunteers led by Class 35 working 8 projects throughout the community, I am blown away! Lots of good things being done and lots of friendships being strengthened. GARLAND GIVES. One day. Many hands. Side by side.”

As a wrap up to the week, I just wanted to post a few pics from the day.  Although I didn’t do much physical labor yesterday, I was part of the team doing the overall planning for months leading up to the event.  There was a lot of mental exhaustion and anguish during that time.  Oftentimes people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes when they only see the end product, which is hopefully a well-oiled machine, but I can tell you it was a lot of emails, phone calls, planning meetings, conference calls, shopping for supplies, and planning of every last detail.  Given everyone’s different strengths and weaknesses, some project leads were more detail oriented and others had more of a “wing it” style.  But in the end, everything worked out.  The weather cooperated.  The mulch disappeared.  And at the end of the day yesterday, I was as exhausted as if I were moving all of that mulch!

The Projects

Prize for the fastest project to finish goes to Salvation Army where the ladies moved playground mulch at record speed. An equipment problem prevented them from power washing the parking lot, so a group will return to finish another day.

GG-SA-mulch
This is how you do it!
Prize for the most fun goes to Good Samaritans where there was plenty of food to eat, a DJ, some dancing, a very questionable “magic show,” and a Ford filled with canned food from a local dealership. They rebuilt the food pantry shelves inside the building and refreshed the picnic area outside the building.

Prize for the best yard decoration goes to Pawsibilities. They refreshed the grounds for the dogs and the volunteers.

Prize for slow and steady wins the race goes to Landmark Society. They were the last ones to finish, but had the tedious inside task of indexing and transcribing photo albums and scrap books. Not a lot of pictures taken because, as their project lead Marty commented, “There’s not a lot of scintillating work going on here.” Although I did hear they had quite a bit of fun with the stories about rising buildings and youth running off to San Francisco in the 60s, from the scrapbooks of Garland’s history.

Prize for best use of Police and Fire personnel goes to Hope Clinic where those guys built a beautiful prayer garden area. Be still, my project manager heart!

Prize for the best disappearing act for making 31 cubic yards of mulch disappear faster than anyone expected goes to Jonathan’s Place, where they did arts and crafts with the kids, planted flowers, collected flip-flops for summer camp, and distributed mulch to several playground areas.

Prize for the best swag bag goes to New Beginning Center where they helped people trying to re-enter the workforce write resumes and practice their interview skills, helped them pick out a new interview outfit, and provided them with a portfolio, a thumb drive, and make-up bags full of goodies. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken due to the nature of the clients.

And finally, the prize for the best workout before the workout goes to Get to Know Garland where a Camp Gladiator trainer warmed the participants up before they were set loose on a scavenger hunt around downtown Garland. The participants all got some swag in the end, as well as prizes such as a Chromebook and fitness trackers.

One Day. Many hands. Side by side. We had over 140 volunteers work on 8 projects for 8 hours on one day, making an impact on the lives of others. There were countless hours spent in the months leading up to this day. There were our share of missteps, differing opinions, and mistakes along the way (Lessons Learned), but nothing stopped us from achieving our end goal of giving back to our community. I am proud of my classmates and the work that was accomplished, and hope everyone that had a hand is proud as well. I am a proud member of Leadership Garland Class 35, we are “The BEST Class!“.

Cheers!

Cynthia