Where Do I Take My Son To Pee????

It seems that I have caused quite a stir on Facebook with my most recent post getting approximately 1500 comments and over 300 shares in less than 24 hours!  The post was short, so I would like to take the time to clarify exactly what happened that upset me.   Ben was taking swimming lessons at the Aquarena from the Autism Society.  He requires assistance with changing his clothes and with toileting.  While there is a change room for people with special needs, when I asked for directions to the family bathroom, I was told by two staff members that they do not have a family or a  gender neutral bathroom.   So, I had to choose between taking him to the men’s or the women’s and I chose the latter.

This was not something new to me! I am a single parent and Ben loves to be out and about in the community, shopping and going to restaurants.  Many places are not equipped for people who have an attendant of a different gender with them. Up until that point, it did not cause a dilemma for me.  Sure, I got some strange looks taking a boy into the ladies room, but in my eyes, he is my baby and it is no big deal to take your little boy to the bathroom with you.

That was what I thought until two days ago when I walked into the ladies washroom at the Aquarena.  Sharing this small, two stalled space with 12 year old Ben, was a girl about his age.  Needless to say, this adolescent girl felt uncomfortable with this set up, as did I.  It certainly was not great for Ben’s dignity either.   It was then that I realized he is not a little boy anymore.  He is an adolescent boy, who is quite big for his age, taking a size 10 in men’s shoes already.   He is quickly growing into a man.  How will it look when I, a single mom and his primary caregiver, have to take him to the ladies bathroom then?   If he has a respite worker, it will most likely be a female as the majority are.   As far as I am concerned, Ben’s basic human right to be able to access a toilet has been violated.  Many of the people who responded to my post have  been in the same situation, so this is much bigger than me and Ben.  Not just people with autism, but people with physical disabilities or disorders such as Alzheimers may also require assistance with toileting.  It is an issue that needs to be brought to light.  It makes me nervous to think about how I will proceed with this, but something must be done, and it looks like I will be the one to start the ball rolling. I hope my angels got my back on this one!!!  (If you would like to sign my petition, please go to my Facebook page )

In addition to bathroom accessibility for Ben, here are some other things that would make for a more autism friendly world:

Autism Friendly Hotels:  I was once told by hotel management that if we didn’t keep the noise down, we would be asked to leave the hotel.  The noise he was referring to was Ben’s stimming: loud vocalizations and jumping.  These behaviors, although disruptive, are necessary for his sensory integration. The picture below was taken at Canada’s first autism friendly hotel, located in Port Aux Basques, NL.   It provides a space for children on the spectrum to meet their sensory needs.  It also has a specific room for individuals with ASD and their families.  Nothing in the suite is movable or can be thrown should a guest become distressed.  In an autism friendly world, all hotels would have such a room, and would be more tolerant of autistic behaviors such as stimming.

Photo credit: golfnews.ca

Autism Friendly Movie Theatres:  A friend of mine was once asked to leave a movie theatre because her son’s vocal stimming was disturbing to the other movie goers.  Some movie theatres offer mommy and baby matinees where crying is ok.  I would urge all movie theatres to offer this service and to extend the invitation to children with autism and other special needs.  Rather than call it a “mommy and baby matinee,  a more appropriate name might be “An Inclusive Movie Matinee”.

Autism Friendly Airports:  It can be difficult traveling alone when you have a child with autism, as Ben’s dad once learned when he disappeared at Heathrow Airport!   Wouldn’t it be great if airport personnel provided assistance to families who are traveling with a person with ASD, in the same way that they support people with physical disabilities.

Autism Friendly Stores:   When Ben was younger, it was very difficult for him to wait in line, especially at grocery stores while he was anticipating his treat!  When I took my kids to Disney World, we got a special pass which allowed not only Ben, but his whole entourage (mom and siblings) to go to the front of the line for all rides and attractions.  How nice would it be if kids with autism got a special pass to go to the front of the line at shopping centers.  Hey, if Disney can do it, then why not Walmart?

Autism Friendly Restaurants:  Imagine a world in which restaurants designated a table, away from the main traffic area, with a sign that says “Autism Friendly Table.”  Then if the child was having a meltdown because for example, his chicken nuggets were touching his fries, people would know at a glance that the child has autism, and is not just “being a brat” as is too often assumed.

Autism Friendly Hair Salons:  Many children with autism resist getting their hair cut, which can cause quite a scene at hair salons.  Wouldn’t’ it be great if hair salons offered a private room, with dim lights and soft music to help soothe the senses of people with ASD, while preserving their dignity?

Autism Friendly Parades:   I am happy to say, that in my home town of Burin, Newfoundland, last year’s Christmas parade was autism friendly!  There was a stretch of the parade which was quiet, no sirens or loud music, for people on the spectrum who are sensitive to loud noises.  In an autism friendly world, all towns and cities would adopt this practice.

Autism Friendly People:  In an ideal world, not only would businesses be more accommodating to people with autism, but so too would people.   However, that can only happen if we raise understanding and acceptance of the disorder.   The time for awareness has passed.  People are aware that autism exists, yet many still react in a very negative way to autistic behaviors such as stimming and meltdowns.  Tolerance.  Understanding.  Empathy.  That is what an autism friendly world would look like!

As my friend, Kathy Hickman pointed out to me, these services would benefit not only people with autism, but people with other exceptionalities as well.  Like the hotel in Port Aux Basques, whose story went national, it would also be a smart business move.   If there are businesses in the St. John’s area who would like to have their staff trained on autism sensitivity, or would like to consult with me on how to make their business a more inclusive environment, please contact me through my website: www.florencestrang.com.   Not only do I deal with autism on a personal level, I am also an Educational Psychologist, so doing these presentations is part of my work.   I am offering this as a free service.

You can buy  our book “Calm the F. Down! A Day in the Life of an Autism Mom”
HERE

Overcomer

Let me introduce you to my new friend, Denika Philpott, also known as “Overcomer”.  After reading her book, you will understand why she is so deserving of this title!   Here is a guest post from the beautiful Denika;

Denika Philpott

Denika’s story:  Lying on the cold, hard bathroom floor after chemo number four, it was extremely hard to see my purpose. I have lived by the verse from the Bible “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Don’t run away. I’m no minister and I don’t claim to be perfect in any way so when I quote a verse from the Bible, you don’t have to ready yourself for a sermon. There won’t be one. It’ll be me speaking “straight from the heart” as Bryan Adams sang way back in 1983.

That very day that I hauled myself up off the bathroom floor, walked into my bedroom and collapsed in my mother’s arms, sobbing. Most days it was being strong and leaning on the support of my team, my tribe that got me through. But some days were just exhausting and filled with tears.

It was during this time with my husband’s gently nudging that I realized, “you know what, God does have a purpose for me! I’m going to write a book.” And that’s exactly what I did. During the endless days of waiting for the side effects of chemotherapy to wear off or healing from another surgery, I could do very little. I would sit in my library and write for hours. I poured my heart, my soul and all my experiences onto those blank pages. The daunting report from the MRI that revealed the severity of the breast cancer I had, my head shaving party, my story of my mastectomy journey and what this surgery revealed; all this I chronicled in my book I very proudly titled Overcomer.

We all learn lessons from adversity. Mine was to not focus on past mistakes but forgive yourself and move on, continually living out your purpose.

At times, like when I was on the bathroom floor, this purpose is really hard to see. There are so many obstacles that can stand in our way. They can range from people who are not in our corner, to living circumstances or just our own mental well-being. To be able to heal, I had to focus on myself and not on the negative.

During the past year and a half, my heart has been molded and shaped in a way that has given me a new purpose. I have a deep hunger to pour my experience into people so they can see the importance of their purpose in this life.

During the storms, when you question so many things that are happening, trust that you are intricately woven into the tapestry of this life. With patience and perseverance, your purpose will be made known.

You can check out Denika’s blog at:   https://journeywithdenika.wordpress.com/

You can buy Denika’s book HERE

Acceptance

am

  God, grant me the serenity

  To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

                                                                                                (Reinhold Neibuhr, 1943)

The inability to accept the things which we cannot change in life can be one of the greatest obstacles to inner peace. When people experience loss in their lives, they typically go through what well known psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross referred to as the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

When my youngest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, I suffered a loss.  While Ben was still physically with me, the hopes and dreams I had for his future were suddenly taken from me.  Although I did not realize it at the time, in retrospect I can see how I went through a text book case of the stages of grieving.

Denial: At first, I ignored the signs.  Sure, Ben preferred to be on his own, as opposed to the company of other people, but he was half British.  “The Brits are known for their aloofness,” I assured myself.

He was still not talking at the age of three.  “But is not unusual for boys to be late in acquiring language skills,” I told my family.

I noticed that he preferred to line up his toy trucks as opposed to play with them in the conventional way. “But that’s probably just because he doesn’t have play mates his own age,” I reasoned with my friends.

Anger: The first person to suggest that Ben might have autism was his father, a pediatrician.  I was outraged!  “Are you nuts?” I yelled.  “I can’t believe you would think that our beautiful son is autistic.  It is absolutely ridiculous. You obviously know nothing about autism.”  I am not exactly sure if I spoke those words to him directly, but I do know that I would go on wild rants whenever I thought about him making this “outrageous” diagnosis!

Bargaining:  When Ben’s speech-language therapist later suggested that we get him tested for autism, it really scared me.  Was it actually possible that my baby boy could be autistic?  Even the word autism scared me.  I bargained with God.  “Please Dear Lord, don’t let him have autism.  Let him be deaf or have a learning disability; anything but autism! Those kids are so cold and unloving.”

(Then God winked at me and replied, “Florence, do I have a lesson in store for you!”)

Depression: Even though more and more professionals were suggesting that I should have Ben tested for autism, I still clung on to the hope that he was just a late bloomer.  Then one evening, while chatting with a colleague of mine, I casually mentioned that Ben’s therapist had suggested autism.  I waited for his re-assurance that I had nothing to worry about, but instead, he gave a response that literally knocked the wind out of me.  “I can see that,” he said.

I gasped for air.  My voice cracked, “What the hell do you see that I don’t see, because I DON’T SEE IT!”  Then with all of the kindness that he could muster, he went on to point out the red flags that I had been ignoring: Ben’s lack of social interactions; his poor eye contact; not responding when his name was called; his fascination with letters and numbers; and his tip-toe walking.  I had a great deal of respect for my colleague, and when he said it, I knew it had to be true.

I started to cry and didn’t stop for three whole days.  Even months after his official diagnosis, the slightest thing could set me off.  I remember, for example, one evening when my son Donovan, then 11 years old, came home after being out to a movie with his friends.  He was very proud to tell me that he had put his arm around a girl he liked, who sat next to him at the movie.  I burst into tears.  All I could think was that Ben would probably never experience the excitement of having his first girlfriend.  He might never even have a real friend.  Because of this dreaded diagnosis, his whole life would be a series of obstacles, struggles and challenges.  Instead of a normal childhood, full of fun and play, Ben’s pre-school years would consist of work.  He would have to undergo intensive therapy to learn how to talk; therapy to learn how to play; therapy to learn how to recognize emotions; therapy to learn how to dress himself.  All of those things that “normal” children learn by watching and doing, would be hard work for Ben.   As a mother, it broke my heart that he would be robbed of a carefree childhood.

Acceptance: Finally, after months of intense sadness and feelings of loss, came acceptance. It came to me one night as I was praying my nightly prayer for my three children to be safe, healthy, and happy. It suddenly dawned on me that God was still answering my prayers. Ben was safe, he was healthy, and he was happy. Being given the label of autism did not make him cold or unloving.  Ben was still the same sweet, kind, loving, smart, adorable little boy that he was before his diagnosis.  I knew that there would be challenges ahead for both of us, but we would face these challenges together.  I finally accepted his autism and only then was I at peace.

In my work as an educational psychologist, I often see parents of autistic children who get stuck in one of these stages, and don’t come to a peaceful resolution of acceptance.  They frantically search for ways to FIX their child….diet, supplements, new therapies, or even stem cell transplants.  While some of these techniques may provide benefits, there is no cure for autism.  As a society, we need to understand and accept autism for what it is.  Remember, God does not make mistakes!

(This post is a chapter from my new book, “Soul Steps: 52 Ways to Reconnect with Spirit”, co-authored with Veronica Connors and Natalie Finlay.  Due for release in June of this year). 

   

 

 

Black Is The New Green

Hello all!  Well, for thoes of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that my posts are all over the place lately!  Recently I have been posting about anxiety and mindfulness.  Mostly because that is what I am dealing with in my psychology practice.   Occasionally, I will write a post about my son Ben.  Mostly because he is awesome.   (On that note, I am very close to the completion of my book:  “Calm the Fuck Down: A Day in the Life of an Autism Mom”.   More to follow in March!!!)   It seems like a long time since I have written anything about cancer prevention or healthy lifestyle practices.  Mostly because…..well, there is no excuse.

I have been researching a lot lately for another book I am working on, “Still Finding the Perks” , and I am learning a lot of new, interesting information about food.  I believe that when you are making the transition to healthier eating habits, you should concern yourself with what new foods you can ADD to your diet, not what you have to eliminate.  Once you add more and more healthy options, there will be no room on your plate for the unhealthy stuff…..and you won’t feel deprived!

Did you know that the darker the pigments in foods, the more health benefits they provide to you?  By “foods” I mean foods from the earth of course, not animals, in which case lighter is better.  Anti-oxidants are the agents that give color to foods and the darker the color, the more powerful the anti-oxidants.   As you may know,  anti-oxidants help to neutralize the harmful effects that free radicals have on our bodies which protects us against many diseases, including cancer. What gives foods their black color is anthocyanin, an antioxidant flavanoid pigment, which has been linked to reducing cancer cell proliferation.  So when choosing foods for cancer prevention, always look for the darker varieties because when it comes to healthy eating, black is the new green!

black

 Blackberries: Blackberries have one of the highest anti-oxidant levels of all berries.  In addition to being a great food for cancer prevention, blackberries help promote better digestive health, strengthened immune defense, and healthy functioning of the heart.  Blackberries have also been shown to aid in enhancing memory and keeping the bones and skin healthy.

Black rice:  You probably know that brown rice is a healthier choice than white rice, but if you want to go that extra step, try black rice.  Unlike brown rice, black rice contains a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Additionally, black rice contains Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune system health.

Black lentils: In addition to anti-oxidants, black lentils are very high in iron, with one serving offering nearly half of the daily recommended amount for women.  They are also high in fiber, helping to remove toxins from the body.

Black beans: While all types of beans provide a good source of plant based protein, black beans,  are also rich in potent bioflavonoids, which may help to prevent cancer.

Chia seeds: These little powerhouses are touted for their high, heart healthy, omega 3 content.  In addition, one ounce of chia seeds provide four grams of protein.  They are also a good source of calcium and give you 42% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, per serving.

Black soybeans: With more antioxidants and protein and fewer carbs than other beans these legumes are not only good for you, but also are a powerhouse food for weight loss.

Black sesame seeds: In addition to being high in anti-oxidants as well as several vitamins and minerals (such as magnesium which lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent diabetes), black sesame seeds promote healthy skin and hair.  They have also been proven to help promote healthy liver functioning.

Black garlic: Black garlic is simply the aged version of garlic. While garlic is known for its anti-cancer properties, the black variety has twice the antioxidants of regular garlic, giving it an even greater cancer kicking punch!

Black mushrooms: There are several black varieties of mushrooms, and all are rich in anti-oxidants.  They also help to stimulate the immune system as well as prevent cancer.

Black pepper: Black pepper has numerous health benefits including antibacterial properties and it aids in digestion.   The thing that gives black pepper its “super-power” however, is its ability to increase nutrient absorption from other foods by up to 2,000 percent!  (Black pepper helps your body to utilize the cancer fighting effects found in turmeric, for example.)

While many of these foods may sound exotic, it is easy to substitute them in the place of other, more familiar foods.  For example, I recently used black rice instead of brown rice in my veggie soup.  It darkened the broth a little, but had the same flavor. As a general rule of thumb, remember that when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the darker, the better, so seek out not only black varieties, but also dark greens and purples. Iceberg lettuce, for example, has very little nutritional value, whereas romaine is much richer in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.  Knowledge is power and now that you know how much better darker foods are for your body, go ahead and make yourself a powerful, cancer-kicking salad!  (But don’t stop at the dark foods….try to include all the colors of the rainbow!)

 

 

Do You Need Help To Manage Your Anxiety?

anxiety-cb

In 25 years of practicing psychology, about 90% of clients who come to me for counseling are suffering from anxiety.  It comes in so many forms that many people do not even realize that it is the culprit for their misery.  Some of my clients have full blown panic attacks: racing heart, shortness of breath, feeling faint, choking sensation, and a sense of impending doom.  Others experience anxiety with just one symptom: a tightness in the throat and feeling that they can’t swallow; persistent worry; or a feeling of being detached from their body and from society.   Having one symptom can be just as debilitating as having full blown panic attacks.

The good news is, there is no need to suffer in silence!   There are natural techniques for managing anxiety which scientific studies have proven can be just as effective as taking medication. Do you need help in managing your anxiety?   Take this simple test to find out your anxiety level (credit for this test goes to David Burns):

Based on how you have been feeling for the past week, rate the following 5 items on a scale of 0 to 3 where:

0-not at all

1-somwhat

2-moderately

3- a lot

  1. To what extent have you been feeling anxious, nervous or worried?
  2. To what extent have you been feeling tense, restless or unable to relax?
  3. To what extent have you been feeling stressed, uptight or on edge?
  4. To what extent have you been having frightening thoughts, fantasies or daydreams? (eg. what if my son is in a car accident?  What if I get sick? etc.)
  5. To what extent have you been having physical symptoms of stress, such as racing heart, throat constrictions, shortness of breath or tight, tense muscles?

Interpretation:

0 to 2: normal

3 to 5: borderline anxiety

6 to 10: mild to moderate anxiety

11 to 15: severe anxiety

Over the years, I have accumulated an entire toolbox of strategies, techniques and tools for treating anxiety.  I have combined these techniques into an organized program called Mindful Anxiety Management, which has helped hundreds of people to keep their anxiety in check.  It is a program based on the concept of neuroplasticity, which simply means the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.  Right now, for example, there are no neural pathways in my brain for playing a musical instrument, since I have never tried to learn that skill.  However, if I wanted to learn to play the piano, I could take lessons and practice.  Every time I practiced I would be strengthening the neural pathways in my brain for that skill.  Eventually, with enough practice, I would be able to sit at a piano and play without even thinking about it, thanks to the neural pathways I created.

Right now, many of you have strong neural pathways in your brain for anxiety, worry and stress, because that is what you PRACTICE on a daily basis.  You have made these neural pathways so well worn, that it is the path that your brain will naturally take you on as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.  Well, what if you could create NEW neural pathways…..pathways for peace and relaxation?   That is exactly what Mindful Anxiety Management does! 

What is the opposite of anxiety?  Relaxation.  It is impossible to feel both anxious and relaxed at the same time.  It makes sense then, that the best treatment for anxiety is to build strong neural pathways in the brain for relaxation.  How do you do this?  You PRACTICE relaxation skills.  Remember, “relaxation skills” are not the same as simply “relaxing”.   They are a specific set of skills that can be used to calm the body and the mind, and promote a sense of well being.   

Because of the success that my clients have achieved with Mindful Anxiety Management, I have decided to offer online groups, so that people can participate from the comfort of their own homes.  This is especially useful for people who have social anxiety, as many would find it overwhelming to be in a room full of people.  If you are interested in learning more about these groups, please check out my website: https://www.florencestrang.com/upcoming-workshops

Want to start building your neural pathways for relaxation right now?  Then find a place that is free from distractions and listen to this 10 minute guided visualization.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KXnALvPIW8

Just relax!

How I Overcame A Nervous Breakdown

flo2bwFlorence Strang, Registered Psychologist

“Nervous breakdown”, I am so glad they don’t use that term anymore.  It suggests weakness and an inability to cope.  The term actually implies that you are somehow broken!  I guess that is why there was so much stigma and shame attached to it when I struggled with an anxiety disorder nearly 20 years ago.  Thankfully, people are more open to talking about mental health issues today, and the stigma is slowly disappearing.  But back in MY day…..

I was in my early thirties, with two small kids, a demanding career and the first stirrings of discontent in my marriage.  I felt fine when I set off to Corner Brook for a psychology conference, but I found myself running late for my first session and that worried me.  If there were going to be a lot of people in an enclosed space, I liked to get there early to get the chair nearest the door.  From an early age, I had a kind of phobia of being surrounded by people in a room with closed doors.  When I walked into the conference room, however the door seats were all taken.  The room was already full, with about 200 people jammed in there.  I scanned my surroundings for a seat.  The only one available was smack dab in the middle of the crowd.  I shuffled my way to the seat, brushing knees with my colleagues along the way.  Already I could feel my face becoming flushed.  Just as I sat down,  something happened that put my anxiety over the top:  they closed the doors!

My heart started to pound.  My breathing became quick and shallow.  My throat started to constrict.  My legs went to jelly and my hands began to shake.  Everything around me became surreal, like I was in a fog.  My mind raced, “I have to get out of here or I will die!”  Logically, I would later realize that nobody ever died from sitting in a crowded room.  However, when that panic set in, there was no convincing me otherwise.  I just had to get out of there!

I went back to my hotel room and waited for it to pass.  I had experienced panic attacks before so I knew the routine.  First that aura of impending doom.  Then the actual panic attack, lasting about five minutes and slowly subsiding, leaving me feeling weak and exhausted.  But this time was different.  After about an hour of pacing the floor, wringing my hands and crying, I started to fear that the feeling…..anxiety…..would never go away.  I was doomed to live my life with a never-ending feeling of fear, or at least that is what I thought at the time.

Over the next several months, things that I took for granted became monumental tasks for me.  I could not go to work.  I could not go shopping or even get my hair styled.  I was even afraid of being left alone to take care of my kids.  My future looked bleak and hopeless.  Eventually, I gave in to my doctor’s pleas and saw a psychiatrist, and that was the beginning of my recovery.

I had resisted medication, fearing that I would become addicted or turn into a “zombie”.  However, this doctor educated me on a then “new” type of medication, SSRI’s, which were gentle and non-addictive.  After about three weeks of taking them, I felt the anxiety slowly subside.  More important than the medication however, was the anxiety reduction techniques that I put into practice.  As a psychologist, I already knew about these techniques and had used them with my clients.  However,  just like a surgeon cannot perform surgery on him or her self, I needed that expert to guide me. The combination of medication with these techniques really worked!  I have not taken anxiety medication for about 15 years, but I continue to use my anxiety reduction techniques on a daily basis, and I have never felt better!

So what are these “magical” techniques that I speak of?

-Cognitive restructuring

-Mindfulness

-Deep relaxation exercises

-Abdominal breathing techniques

-Building and strengthening the neural pathways for relaxation

It sounds complicated, but really these techniques are easy to learn and to incorporate into your daily life.  About 90% of the clients I see in my psychology practice have issues with anxiety, such as panic attacks, OCD, self-harm, or just constant worry.  Through a program called Mindful Mood Balance, I help them to manage stress and anxiety and find peace of mind.

On Saturday, Feb. 4th, I will be offering a free session in St. John’s for anyone who would like to try out these techniques.   I also hope to offer a free online session.   If you would like to register, please indicate whether you are registering for the St. John’s session or the online session. 

Here is the link to register:  https://www.florencestrang.com/upcoming-workshops

Peace out!

The Golden Years

While visiting my parents a few days ago in my home town of Lawn, a sign on a building grabbed my attention:  The 50 Plus Golden Age Club.   While I have seen this sign many times, it startled me to think that in just a few short weeks, I could technically be a member of this club.  Suddenly I had visions of myself playing bingo and card games with the other ”Golden Agers” for the coveted prize of  bucket of salt beef.  Golden age.  The twilight years.  Big girl panties.  Am I ready for all of this?

golden-age-docx

Have you ever bumped into an old class mate you have not seen for years and thought, “Wow!  She has really aged!”   Well guess what, she is probably thinking the same thing about you.  I am not suggesting that you LOOK old, but that we all age. It is just that we sometimes forget that our bodies are aging, because of our “mental age”,  which is the age that we actually FEEL.  Mentally,  I am around 25, that carefree age just before I got married, had kids and still had my own boobs.  (A problem arises however, when you try to party like a 25 year old in a 50 year old body!)

I recently overheard a colleague of mine say that she dreaded turning 50.  Not me!   After fighting cancer and narrowly escaping with my life, I cherish each and every birthday.  Besides, the way I see it, 50 is the new 30.  It has taken me this long to finally feel grown up enough to say  the word “fuck” in front of my parents. 

Oh well, you know what they say:  Youth….it’s wasted on the young. Wisdom truly does come with age and I am sure you are all wondering, what pearls of wisdom I have gained in my 50 years on this planet.   Well, you are probably not actually wondering that, but here goes anyway:

Flo’s  Pearls of Wisdom

-Your health REALLY is the most important thing in your life. (Sometimes it takes getting sick to actually feel that truth of that statement.)

-When times are bad always remember, “this too shall pass”.

-When times are good, also remember that, “this too shall pass.”  (In the ebb and flow of life, the good and the bad will come and go, so just hang in there!)

-No matter how badly you have been hurt, you will love again.

-Doing everything for your kids does NOT turn them into selfish brats.

-Money is meant to be enjoyed, not hoarded.

-Being a parent is the most important job in the world.

-The only person you hurt by refusing to forgive is yourself.

-Cherish your friendships. 

-People will come and go in your life, but you can always count on family.

-It ALWAYS pays to be nice.

-What you give out will come back to you, so be generous with your time, your love and your money.

-Living in the past causes depression.  Worrying about the future causes anxiety.  Peace can only be found by living in the present moment.

-In the grand scheme of things, your greatest assets are the people in your life.

-Do yoga.

Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness and prosperity.  Namaste.