Frozen February

The frozen Charles River from my window.

February was a frozen blur. Boston saw more snow this winter than we have in recent years, but the storms were small and dumped a few manageable inches every week or so. February is known to be the snowiest month here, and I think it has been so pretty and enjoyable.

(Of course, I’ve been able to work mostly from home, and haven’t had to trudge through the snow on icy city sidewalks this year!)

In the middle of the month, I had an enormous work project that required a few days of on-site work and interaction with a lot more people than I’ve been used to. I bought some warm winter gear, since I’d be outside in below-freezing temperatures for 10-hour days; I doubled-up on well-fitting face masks; and filled my pockets with little containers of hand sanitizer. Thankfully, all went well, I stayed healthy, and I got about 10,000 extra steps each day — much more than I’ve been getting since working from home!

Now that the stress of that work project is behind me, I’m back to channeling calm and reflecting on what’s truly important. Looking at the frozen Charles River outside my apartment, I’ve thought about how sometimes life just stands still. Hard times, dark moments, cold winter days — they can stop us in our tracks.

In that pause, there is an opportunity, and maybe a need, to take cover, protect ourselves, focus on self-preservation and self-care. As the hard times ease, as darkness ever so slowly fades into light, there is time for reflection.

Today, I noticed that the ice in the river had broken, and I saw an unfamiliar movement in the water — the river was flowing again.

The days are getting longer, with more sunlight in the sky each evening. The temperatures are warming, ever so slightly. Spring decorations are in stores, with fuzzy bunnies and hatching chicks symbolizing birth and renewal and the Easter promise of eternal life after death.

We are approaching the one-year mark of the pandemic shutdown. With vaccines becoming more and more available, and warmer weather returning, there is so much to hope for!

Traveling again, gathering with family and friends, giving hugs and kisses on cheeks!

It’s starting to feel like the ice is breaking, and life may start flowing along like the river.

What are you most looking forward to?

For Crying Out Loud!

I don’t know who to give credit to for this image.
I found it on a simple Google search, and it just resonates some days!

Have you ever had “just one of those days” where everything seems to be going wrong and you just want to cry?

I have those days every once in a while, and I am pretty accepting of them. As I mentioned in an earlier post, feelings are visitors that come and go. Darkness gives way to light eventually, always.

On those “down” days, I’m trying to be more open to a new stress-reduction tactic: CRYING.

I hate crying. My face gets all red and puffy. My nose gets stuffy, and there is always so many boogers and snot. When I really let the tears flow, I can even give myself a headache. Yet, I recently learned of some interesting benefits to crying.

Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey, at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones that get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins that accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.”

Crying is actually really good for you! I had no idea. You literally “get it all out of your system” when you cry, both literally and figuratively.

When you do a simple Google search on the “benefits of crying,” there are so many results—one news story even claims that crying can help you lose weight!

This article from CNN from July 2020 addresses how many of us are hesitant to cry, especially in public; the effect of pent-up emotions on our minds and bodies; why we cry; and how important it is to do so, especially during the current pandemic.

So if you’re having “one of those days,” I hope you know it’s OK, and maybe you can have a good cry to help you make it through.

(If you’re having any trouble whipping up tears of your own, I highly recommend the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias. I could cry for Shelby right now!)

Messages from Heaven

A purple sky at sunset

I used to absolutely hate the color purple. I don’t know why, exactly. It has always been one of my least favorite colors.

When my dad was alive, I used to help him and my husband with some of the “paperwork” for their Fantasy Football team. One day, when we were discussing the team name, I asked my dad what our team colors were. “Purple and yellow,” he said. I tried to argue and pick different colors, but he insisted. That Christmas, as a gift, I bought him a big purple blanket with our team name embroidered on it. When he passed, despite its color, the blanket was one of the mementos I most wanted to keep.

In the days and weeks after his passing, I suddenly started seeing purple EVERYWHERE. On my walk to work, I’d see a lone purple flower poking up from the sidewalk. I was randomly given beautiful purple orchids from not one but two coworkers who didn’t know the story of my dad’s favorite color. A new building was being constructed outside of my office, and my jaw dropped when I came in one morning and saw that the entire building was covered in purple building materials. My whole body got chills when I’d see a spectacular purple sunset, a sight that I’d never ever noticed before.

I know that these could all be coincidences, but I choose to believe instead that they are messages from my dad… little reminders that he is still around. He was always the type of personality to make his presence known.

He doesn’t just send me purple messages. In the days after he passed, I started seeing a solitary monarch butterfly. It would flutter past me when I was sitting outside, thinking of him. I got a gut feeling that it was from him, so going forward, when I saw the butterfly, I’d say “Hi, Dad!” Once I accepted it, I’d start to see monarch butterflies on meaningful occasions, and my friends have seen and noticed it, too. They fly right up to my face sometimes. It’s really pretty wild.

I’ve been told by family members that when we see an eagle or a hawk, that is my dad, too. And I have a very special awareness of feathers—I’ve seen them at the most emotional times, when thinking about or talking aloud to other special people who have passed from my life. At times, feathers literally float down from the sky when I am talking about someone I miss. My dad likes to send me big, prominent feathers, like those from a Blue Jay bird. He also sometimes makes sure that I hear a special song— when I’m in the car, a song that he liked will play on three different stations, so I keep hearing it over and over. Like I said, he was always someone to be noticed!

In the past few days, I’ve been talking to him about a few things… I miss him and I want his help with a few things that feel out of my control. Yesterday, while out running errands, my husband and I saw three hawks—one almost landed on our car! Then, in the middle of the highway on a cold winter day, a monarch butterfly flew past our windshield. And just now, I looked up from my desk, and out the window, I saw that the sky had turned a beautiful shade of purple.

I feel like he’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t know what. Maybe he just wants me to know that he’s here.

What do you think? Have you ever received any messages from Heaven?


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” -Marcel Proust

I recently read a bit on the science behind gratitude, and it’s fascinating.

By reducing the stress hormones and managing the autonomic nervous system functions, gratitude significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. At the neurochemical level, feelings of gratitude are associated with an increase in the neural modulation of the prefrontal cortex, the brain site responsible for managing negative emotions like guilt, shame, and violence.

As I embark on a path to heal my entire body from inflammation and stress, gratitude seems like a great new tool to try out.

The concept of gratitude came to mind last night as I was getting ready for bed. For the past few months, I’ve been having a little bit of ocular inflammation in my left eye, which is my “good” eye. Thankfully, my doctor is helping me manage it with eye drops and not systemic corticosteroids (which suppress your immune system and are scary to take during the COVID pandemic!)

I put the eye drops in my left eye and kept that eye closed for 30 seconds, as the instructions indicate. During that 30 seconds, I was reminded of the vision loss in my right eye. I looked in the mirror and could only see part of my reflection; the lower left quadrant of my vision is completely gone in that eye. The vision that remains is distorted, very blurry, and colors are muted to sepia tones. I picked up lotion and tried to read the small print on the back of the bottle with just my “bad” eye, and it was difficult. My poor peripheral vision in that eye made the text swirl as I concentrated on finding my focus and discerning each word.

In that moment, I was immensely relieved to open my left eye and have both eyes working together for improved vision once again. Vision loss is life changing, and while it is still scary to not know what the future holds for my battle with uveitis, I’m enormously grateful for the vision I still have right now.

I shut off the bathroom light, walked to the bedroom, and crawled into bed and reflected on the day and the week. It’s been a long one: the worsening pandemic and riot at the Capitol weighed heavy on my mind, and I struggled through some anxiety and very long work days this week, too. Life is hard right now.

Yet… My bed felt warm and soft and cozy. I remembered some very fun and meaningful exchanges I’d had with sweet friends throughout the week. My cute, little dog was quietly snoring in his bed on the floor. My husband texted me to let me know he was driving home from work. I’d eaten a warm and nutritious dinner. I used the remote to flip on the large flatscreen television to an array of shows and movies. With the help of my glasses, I could read all the text on the television from 20 feet away, in my spacious bedroom, in my safe home. In this moment, I recognized that I live a life of luxury compared to many people in the world, and there are countless things for which to be grateful.

Going into the weekend, there is more opportunity for quiet time, for relaxation, reflection, and self-care. It’s a nice time to sit back and think… What are YOU grateful for?


It’s the start of the work week, after a holiday break, in New England where it is dark at 4:00pm and freezing cold all day long, during a pandemic. Is there anything more BLAH than that?! My work today was not very creative, there were literally hundreds of emails, and I finished the day feeling very uninspired.

After dinner, I decided to nourish my soul with some yoga and meditation. A few years ago, I learned a little bit about chakras, and how if they are unbalanced or blocked, you can feel really off. It’s very interesting, and I’d like to learn more. For now, there are lots of guided meditations and yoga programs, so I started with my Root Chakra and did a yoga program and a guided meditation.

I lit a lovely scented candle called “Angel Whispers” (which I got at the Dollar Store!) and it made for some peaceful and relaxing ambiance.

If anyone knows about chakras, I’d love to hear more! Please share any comments or links!


Feelings are like House Guests

Image is from the website of Dr. Amanda Gale-Bando

I had a rollercoaster day today. My feelings have been up-and-down, I’m trying out a new medicine, and anxiety (which I have struggled with my whole life) has been creeping up in an intense way recently. It’s a little overwhelming.

I woke up feeling awful, but I tried lots of positive self-talk and cuddled on the couch with the dog for a while. Then, I was feeling better, and I turned some fun music up loud, took a long shower, put on my favorite comfy clothes, and danced in the bathroom mirror. Unfortunately, tonight I’m back to feeling crummy.

Experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions is not new to me, but being more calm and accepting of it is something I struggle with. Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious or unwell, I get so pessimistic and I think it’s going to last forever.

A few months ago, I pulled my back out for the first time. I had never experienced that type of pain before; it was excruciating. My husband has hurt his back a couple of times, and he was very supportive and helpful when I felt completely immobilized in pain. At one point, through some very dramatic tears, I told him “I can’t live like this!” He immediately laughed, hugged me, and told me that I wouldn’t have to live like this. I was going to rest and heal and feel better.

That’s an important point that I try to remind myself. In life, pain is often transient. Even with chronic conditions, there are good days and bad days. Dark times don’t last forever. Even the long, cold winter nights lead to beautiful spring days. Little seeds in the ground need the dark winter to build up their energy, to grow and blossom when the sun returns. We humans are like that, too.

I love the saying that “feelings are like house guests.” Sometimes you enjoy their company, and sometimes you can’t wait for them to leave. But they always do just that — they leave.