Saturday, April 28, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons…Make Lemonade

Life is tough and then you die. Whether you believe this or not may depend on what you consider a tough life. All of us living in the United States have a pretty great life. However, we tend to complain and feel sorry for ourselves when challenges arise or we think we don’t have everything we should. A woman living in Afghanistan or Congo, for instance, can only dream of the luxurious life that we American women have. Their best of times would be intolerable to us, yet they manage to find joy and happiness in the face of poverty, war and oppression. It’s all relative to what you know and often we do not appreciate the gifts we have been given.

My 59 years of living have taught me that the worst things I have been dealt have made me a stronger, but more importantly, a happier person. When I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, my world was shattered. Coping with my own mortality was a complex and lonely emotional roller coaster. Through the process it became very clear what is important in my life and what is not.

Twelve years have past since this trauma and I have been drinking lemonade ever since. Now I look at life’s events, the good and the bad, with a whole new perspective. I consider everyday an opportunity to live. Irritations that may have upset me in the past are now just that, irritations. When a loved one passes I am grateful I had their love in my life for as long as I did. I am not saying that loss isn’t painful, but it is a natural part of the human experience and something we all must face.

No one ever said life was easy or fair. But it is full of richness, beauty and love. Drink it in and feel every experience with passion and interest. Live, laugh, love and cry, learning all the while, and remember, lemons make lemonade.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I wanted to share this review of my book 
from US Review of Books. 
Living Fit After Fifty:
A Guide for the Post-Menopausal Woman 
by Carol Ann Haines
Bearhead Publishing
"If you raised kids, worked full time, managed a home, sometimes on your own, you can certainly find time to exercise."
A lot of things can conspire to keep a woman over 50 from looking and feeling healthy. Haines convincingly argues that it's wholly your choice whether to succumb. She offers a succinct, common-sense diet and exercise plan to get you on a better path and to keep you there. And she shows through personal experience that it can work. What's stopping you, Haines writes? Certainly not children; they're older or grown.
Haines, who has won awards for her short stories, is a good writer and does a great job of packing a lot of well-organized information into a short, 88-page book. A discussion of how crash dieting can derail your metabolism, bringing weight gain instead of loss. Stress-buster ideas such as meditation, tips for dealing with exercise routine setbacks, and a starter checklist are particularly helpful. An extensive appendix that lists healthy snacks, sample meal plans, and some really yummy-looking, low-calorie recipes reinforces the author's point that healthy eating need not be mundane.
The author's personal success story of getting fit after battling cancer and the success stories of her husband and several friends are wonderfully motivating. You can finish this book in an hour but should read it twice to glean its finer points. Then, keep it on the shelf to re-read when your motivation dampens. An inspiring, comprehensive, well-written primer that will get women off the couch and properly caring for their still-beautiful bodies.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Superstitions - Do You Believe?

My mother-in-law was born in October and she loved her birthstone, the enchanting opal. Over her lifetime she acquired an impressive collection. When I first met her I couldn’t help but notice the stunning black opal ring that was so strikingly set off by her dark Mediterranean skin and the diamonds that surrounded it. To me this was her signature ring, because she wore it so beautifully. Once I got to know her a little better I asked if I could see the ring. She took it off, but before she gave it to me she cautioned that I was not to put it on my finger or I would be cursed with bad luck. According to her and her Italian mother, if opal is not your birthstone, you cannot wear them. I examined the ring but did not put it on.

Even though she passed away 20 years ago, the opal ring was just handed down to my husband. It is as beautiful as I remember. But do I dare wear it? I have never let superstitions interfere with my everyday decisions. I would not walk under a ladder or cross paths with a black cat if I had another option. Why tempt faith, right? I did hesitate booking a flight on Friday the 13th the other day, but went ahead with my plans because I am a rational person. Still, I was a little worried about wearing the opal ring.

I got on my computer to find out why such a beautiful stone was thought to bring bad luck. I found that the opal has a long and interesting history. The Romans believed it brought good luck and Caesars gave them as gifts to their queens. Some time later the stone became associated with the evil eye. Then in 1829 a novel was written about an opal loosing its color when a drop of water spilled on it. In the story the owner died soon after. Apparently this book changed how the world felt about opals. No one wanted such a fate and the price of opals fell by 50%. With the discovery of the colorful black opals in Australia 50 years later, people once again wanted to wear opals.
Other than some in the far reaches of southern Europe (and my husband’s family) the opal is no longer feared. Since I don’t believe in the evil eye, and the novel is a made up story, I am not convinced that I shouldn’t wear the ring. However, I still hear my mother-in-law’s warning when I put the ring on, and that little doubt remains.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quote of the Week

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama

Do you know anyone who is always cheerful? Someone who looks on the bright side of any situation and usually manages problems with ease and efficiency? I once asked a consistently bubbly coworker how she could show up every morning with smiles and compliments for everyone, despite what she had done the night before, or what we were facing at work that day.

“It’s a choice I make every morning,” she told me. “I choose to make each day as good as it can be because we don’t know how many we will have.”

Her response has stayed with me for many years and after pondering the Dalai Lama’s quote, I understand how our actions and life decisions - like choosing to start every day on a positive note - determine if we are happy or not. If happiness is a choice, why do so many of us choose to be unhappy? Why would anyone want to feel bad? The choice is clear to me. If everyone woke up each day and put a smile on his or her face, what a different world it would be.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Did I Get Myself Into?

The last two months, since the release of my book ‘Living Fit After Fifty’, have been a whirlwind of presentations, signings, and social marketing. I thought writing was the hard part. Now I wish I had time to write, which I enjoy. Sales have been good and the feedback has been wonderful, but when I am not actively promoting the book, sales slow way down. Will I ever be able to write again?

I did not write the book to get rich or even to earn a living. I wrote the book because I write for pleasure, and now that I have (or had) more time, I thought I would complete the process of becoming a published author. The debate regarding signing a contract with a publisher or to self-publish ended somewhere in-between. I went with a small-press publisher, which was very comforting for a first time author, as I received personal attention and did not have to relinquish the rights to the book. However, I am obligated to promote the book -whether I want to or not - as the publisher is in business to make money.

I am not a salesperson, but I am a people person. I enjoy people. I like to meet people and learn what they are about. I first realized this after I left my corporate job in the San Francisco Bay Area (boring) and moved to Alaska. My first job in Anchorage was in a busy medical clinic where I met everyone in town and loved the interaction with the rugged, adventurous population of this booming town. The year was 1976 and the Trans Alaska Pipeline was being constructed to bring oil from the top of the world, Prudhoe Bay, south, across the north-slope and the treacherous peaks of the Brooks Range. The project continued across miles of tundra, more mountain ranges, finally ending at the Port of Valdez, where the oil was pumped into tankers. This immense undertaking brought thousands of opportunists to Alaska from all over the world.  Oil companies, construction workers, engineers, scientist, and anyone hoping to profit from the rapidly growing population, made their way to Alaska.
After a year I left the medical clinic to become a flight attendant for the Anchorage based airline, Wien Air Alaska (I am on the right in the photo taken approximately 1978). Wien was the first airline in Alaska and we serviced the pipeline camps, bringing the workers back and forth from their week-on, week-off, schedules. During the summer months we carried sport enthusiasts to some of the best fishing and hunting spots in the world. Going to work was an adventure. The passengers were a fascinating group of individuals made up of native Alaskans, oil company executives and oil rig crews, naturalist, and tourists. Among the tourist were movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, and many of the worlds’ wealthiest people. I never knew whom I might meet and loved talking with anyone who seemed out of place. I had to know what brought them to Alaska and why they were in route to places with names like, Cold Foot, Lonely, or Dead Horse. His or her stories always interested me and since then I have been curious about everyone I meet. There are so many amazing people, each on a unique path, that I love hearing about.

My point here is I am turning the chore of marketing my book into another opportunity to meet new and engrossing people. This time most of the people I am meeting are women and I am once again intrigued by their stories. I learned so much about life the 12 years I spent in Alaska, the most important being that people are mostly good, interesting, and worth the time to get to know. What I was dreading – pushing my book – is turning into a positive opportunity for personal growth. So far I have met some wonderful people and have had some experiences I otherwise would not have had. My next book will have to wait a while.