Wilma Rudolph

A young girl at Christmas was playing a trivia game on her smartphone.

“Which person was the first female to win 3 gold medals at a summer Olympics?”

Everyone else guessed wrong.

“Wilma Rudolph!” I shouted out correctly.

I know this because I’ve read about Wilma Ruldoph’s life. She was born 4 pounds and sickly. They thought she would never live. Throughout her life, she had a crooked leg and wore a brace. Wilma was only 20 or 21 when she won the 3 gold medals for running track in the 1960 Olympics. Not only was she the first woman to do this, she was African American.

This story impresses me to no end. I tried to tell this story to the others on Christmas and no one responded. They were off trying to answer the next trivia question.

My all-time favorite quotation comes from Wilma Ruldoph:
“The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.”

I covet no easy win. It’s the hardest-won victory that I cherish. And it’s true the triumph can’t be had without the struggle.

I urge readers to be uplifted and inspired by Wilma’s story. Try to do the impossible. “Do the thing you think you cannot do” as Eleanor Roosevelt commands too.

Send the haters packing. It’s your life to live as you choose.

Do the impossible. Then pass the baton to the next person.


Seasonings Greetings

I want to season everything I do with good cheer to inspire others to dare to dream of having a better life.

A pinch of hope and a dash of belief in yourself is all a person needs to add to her life for the recipe of success.

I recently talked with a retired social worker who told me she went to lunch with other social workers. The woman started telling them about how people can recover. The other social workers looked at her like she was out of her mind. “A person can recover?” they asked her because they didn’t think it was possible.

Since the start of my days as a blogger I have always railed against providers who reinforce to their patients that there’s not much we can do or hope for. A friend met with a psychiatrist because he needed to get a new doctor. He told the MD “I was the CEO of corporations.” The shrink told him, “Don’t invent a story to make yourself feel better about having schizophrenia.” In reality, my friend WAS a CEO.

Circa 2015 providers still think no one can recover from schizophrenia.

I’m here to tell readers of this blog that you can recover. More often than not, most people can recover from schizophrenia and go on to have normal lives. The myth of chronic illness is just that: a myth linked to the fact that people who do not get the right treatment right away often develop an ongoing disability. So these are the people that loom large in everyone’s mind instead of the people who are doing well.

I don’t recommend indiscriminate disclosure of your diagnosis. Heck, I don’t recommend any kind of disclosure unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Enjoy your holiday if you celebrate a holiday. 2015 will soon be here and with it the ability to write the story of our lives on a fresh slate.

Have the faith that you can recover. Then go out and take action to make your own version of well happen.

Well: it’s something to strive for.

Seeking Joy

I tell readers to seek joy to be happy, because it doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have in relation to other people. Stop giving others the power to dictate how you feel about yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You have the control over what you think about yourself and others.

I interact with intelligent, socially savvy women. They seem to have charmed lives yet I don’t resent them. I’m only impressed that they seem to have a great time of it. I want only the best for others. I wouldn’t wish a mental illness to strike anyone. Instead, I’d rather cheer on people to do what they do.

Jealousy serves no purpose in a person’s recovery. I urge readers to elevate yourselves by making others look good and succeed. I have been writing about how jealousy serves no purpose for years and years in the various incarnations of my blog.

Attacking others who are happy, who seem to live charmed lives, is not the way to go.

I’m happy–yes I am– for people who don’t have mental illnesses. It’s better that they were spared this fate. You and I are not mind readers. More apt, we’re not supposed to be privy to other people’s struggles. So they don’t have to wear their own version of hell on their sleeves.

I also recommend that readers don’t shout our illnesses from the rooftops either.

Travel to Boston. Save up money to buy your own apartment. Browse a museum. Be a good friend to yourself, because you and your life matter.

The more a person with a diagnosis can have a normal life, the less it matters that we didn’t get what others have or that we got an illness.

Jealousy is a negative energy. You and I might not be able to do or to have certain things that other people have. We need to accept this, and move forward. We need to embrace the good things in our lives. We need to find the things we can have and do the things we can do.

Without comparing ourselves to others. Without judging others or being resentful of them.

That’s the ticket to health: self-acceptance.

How To Flourish

I have ideas to other writers, to anyone who lives in the world:

You should sing your life, be proud of who you are, regardless of the critics, regardless of the fan club either way.

A trap exists to fall into when you sell your soul because in doing so you think you’ll be accepted:

Seeking approval is a no-win game, because the other person can set the hoop higher and higher that you have to jump through, or they can change the terms of what they’ll accept from you.

I understand this truth to be self-evident: mental illness is a shabby disease.  If I could be cured, I would.

Instead, I decided to flout the convention that says: you’re only good or worthy if everyone likes you.  That’s a game that can’t be won either.

All human beings need light and love and laughter.

It’s not easy to be rejected because you have a mental illness.  It’s not easy to go down this lonely road.

Yet deciding to sing your life changes everything.  Deciding to love yourself and others is the way to go. Hate can’t be fought with hate.  Love is the antidote.

This is how to flourish: do your own thing.

Decide that you’re going to be happy no matter what happens in your life and no matter what other people think of you.

Pear and Cheese Panini

This recipe is from the Women’s Health Tastes Better Together column.

Pear and Cheese Panini

2 tsp grated fresh ginger
8 slices whole-wheat sourdough bread (1/4-inch thick)
4 oz blue cheese
1 pear, sliced and cored
1 cup baby arugula
Cooking spray

Rub ginger across one side of each bread slice. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons blue cheese over 4 bread slices.

Top with pear slices and arugula, then the remaining cheese, then the remaining bread to make 4 sandwiches.

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Place 2 sandwiches in the pan, cover with parchment, and place a large skillet on top to press.

Cook until grill marks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip sandwiches, cover, and press, until grill marks form and cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

You can halve this recipe to serve two people. You can also use a panini press machine with a cover to grill the sandwiches instead of using a grill pan and a skillet. Buy a round container of crumbled blue cheese to make it go even easier and quicker.

I served the pear-and-cheese sandwich to a friend with a bowl of chunky tomato bisque soup.

Voila: an easy, quick, healthful Autumn lunch.

Food And Energy

A friend of mine figured out something I’ve always recommended: eat small, healthful “meals” every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day.

I’ll run through this typical plan:

Eat whole-grain high fiber cereal for breakfast or another kind of breakfast that is healthful and has protein and fiber to fuel you up for the day ahead.

Two hours later have a piece of string cheese and 15 almonds. Or one banana or other piece of fruit.

Have lunch two hours later. Include a protein source with your lunch food. Two hours after you eat lunch have apple slices slathered with peanut butter.

Go home and eat a healthful dinner.

Other healthful snacks to substitute in the morning and afternoon are a Kind bar, a fistful of chocolate-covered almonds, whatever fruit is in season. A regular-sized container of raspberries is nearly two cups so it’s two servings of a fruit.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day also gives us a psychological boost because it’s easier to do this than to think we have to scarf down monster portions or serving sizes all the time every day.

Little by little or as the Sicilians would say “picca a picca” is the better way to achieve consistent results: bit by bit.

The friend has one piece of string cheese every 2 hours. No kidding. One piece of string cheese if memory serves has 200 mg. of calcium so you can’t beat it as a natural source of calcium.

In a pinch, you can snack on one serving of Triscuit crackers.

Apples are one of the best kinds of fruit. They’re high in fiber and you can find a variety of apple that you like. I favor organic Fuji apples that are in season in the fall and also now in December. Apples are portable too which makes them a win-win option for when you’re traveling or on the go.

Eating smaller healthful meals throughout the day regulates your blood sugar and helps you maintain consistent energy levels without a quick dip in energy from a traditional sugar coma that certain food induce.

I’ll end here and return with a quick, easy recipe that I made for my friend for lunch.

Optimal Wellness Challenge

In September for Recovery Month the blogger Ashley Smith threw down the challenge to set a wellness goal to achieve for her and her readers.

The point is not that we’ll always be able to do what we set out to. The point is simply to try our best.

I’m fond of the analogy of getting in the ring and trying to win even if you’re defeated. It’s better to know victory AND defeat than to not ever have gotten in the ring. Defeat is the cost of trying. It’s how you get one step closer to winning.

The idea of setting an optimal wellness challenge resonates with me as it nears winter. My goal is to eat healthful food 80 percent of the time.

Just reading ingredient labels turned me off to chocolate candy bars like Twix and Reese’s because-no surprise-they contain natural and artificial flavors. Godiva does seem to be made with real chocolate. And you can buy organic chocolate too.

The goal is not to strive to be perfect. The goal in my humble estimation is to strive for 80 percent healthful foods as part of a long-term consistent eating plan.

I will report back in here at the end of December how it goes with nixing the outright junky food from my life.

One thing I’ll end here with: ban white and processed foods if you do only one thing to start off with.

Replace baked potatoes with sweet potatoes; white rice with brown rice; and regular pasta with whole wheat or farro pasta.

Doing only this will go a long way in improving our health.

I will report back on Thursday with more food news that might just make sense too.

I’ll end here by telling everyone that if you know you go overboard at holiday time with desserts simply have less of the main meal and eat more dessert.

It’s totally true that at the holiday time it’s all about calories in and calories burned.

Try having less of the main meal if you’re going to indulge in the pastry.