Category Archives: Cerebrations

Free Air Life

The first cultural concept explored comes from Norway.

Friluftsliv (frí-loofts-live) describes a way of life that sets well with my soul — — exploring and appreciating nature.


Friluftsliv (frí-loofts-live) translates directly from Norwegian as “free air life,” which doesn’t quite do it justice.

Coined relatively recently, in 1859, it is the concept that being outside is good for human beings’ mind and spirit.


“It is a term in Norway that is used often to describe a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature,” Anna Stoltenberg, culture coordinator for Sons of Norway, a U.S.-based Norwegian heritage group, told MNN.

Other than that, it’s not a strict definition: it can include sleeping outside, hiking, taking photographs or meditating, playing or dancing outside, for adults or kids.

It doesn’t require any special equipment, includes all four seasons, and needn’t cost much money.

Practicing friluftsliv could be as simple as making a commitment to walking in a natural area five days a week, or doing a day-long hike once a month.


While I’m not a religious person, I am a spiritual person and being  surrounded by nature is the way I connect most with ‘a higher power’. Going to church once a week for me would be covered by getting out in  nature and connecting my feet to dirt. Walking on concrete is the worst, asphalt is a bit better, but on dirt is amazing.

I feel connected to both the earth and the heavens when my feet are on the ground.

A Week of Culture

I first read about this almost a month ago and was intrigued instantly.

Then I promptly lost the article and searched for hours to find it again.

No luck until, Voila! It was front and center on my Facebook home page again yesterday.

I’ll be posting each of seven customs concepts over the next week, one per day.

I think you’ll be intrigued as well.

What I liked best about the examination of different cultures is how easily we can incorporate parts of them into our own lives.


Exploring other cultures helps us learn more about ourselves — and perhaps find a new celebration or concept that speaks to us.

To get started, here’s the intro to the article…


7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the U.S.

From the end of October through the New Year and onto Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to forget that the holidays we celebrate are simply cultural constructs that we can choose to engage in — or not. The concepts and ideas we celebrate — like our spiritual beliefs and daily habits — are a choice, though sometimes it feels like we “have” to celebrate them, even if we don’t feel like it.

Culture is ours to do with as we choose, and that means that we can add, subtract, or edit celebrations or holidays as we see fit — because you and me and everyone reading this makes up our culture, and it is defined by us, for us, after all.

If you want to add a new and different perspective to your life, there are plenty of other ways to recognize joy and beauty outside American traditions. From Scandinavia to Japan, India and Germany, the concepts below may strike a nerve with you and inspire your own personal or familial celebration or — as is the case with a couple of these for me — sound like an acknowledgement of something you have long felt, but didn’t have a word for.

Tune in each of the next seven days to see a different culture construct.


Comfort TV

We all know what comfort food is…

Comfort food is food which provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer, and is often characterized by a high carbohydrate level and simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture. (From Wikipedia)

While recuperating from surgery, the only good news is that I’m not hungry. That doesn’t happen very often, and it’s weird to not even crave my standard go-to comfort foods: cheesecake, candy, popcorn.

Rich was the same way after his surgery. Not only does nothing taste good, but you don’t even want to eat at all.

So what brings comfort?



There’s something post-surgically comforting about watching television shows–especially on TV, not on Netflix.

They have to be reruns of shows you have seen before so that you don’t have to pay complete attention. It’s better on TV than streamed from Netflix because then you can doze off during commercials.

We each have our own comfort television shows.

Rich watched most every episode of NCIS during his long recovery.


I was thrilled with back-to-back-to-back Law and Order episodes all day on Wednesday.


I’ve noticed that different criteria determine different comfort television selections.

I don’t think I would have made it through college without having Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Die Hard with a Vengeance playing in the background while I did homework.


PS Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever… 🙂


Wise Words

scaliaSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died today.

Scalia served from 1986 and was known as an intellectual conservative. He is well known for his dissenting quotes because he didn’t mince any words and he was often outrageous.

While I may not agree with his legal views, I did agree with some wise advice he gave once.

Joanne, my youngest sister, graduated from Santa Clara University in the late 1980s.

Scalia was the key note speaker at the graduation ceremony.

mscThe university was very familiar to him. He and his wife, Maureen, were married in the chapel on the campus. And one of his sons was graduating from the university the same year as Joanne.

It was the first college graduation ceremony I had ever been to, and it was beautiful. The campus is lovely. Many of the students are from Hawaii, and they wore leis to the graduation ceremony. The floral aroma was divine!


I don’t remember the topic of Antonin Scalia’s speech, but I do remember one line and it became one of my mantras.

You came here to learn how to learn. 

He was talking about how the graduating students would not take specific knowledge away from their education at the university.

They wouldn’t remember what year certain wars were fought.

They wouldn’t remember the details of specific social norms…

But they would remember how their learned those details and ideas.

They had learned how to learn, and that was their most important take away from their education.

His wise words influenced me to enjoy the learning process more than the actual accumulation of wisdom.




The Queen of Grimace

My knee hurts.

And it should.

While my surgery was done through two tiny holes, it still was DQsurgery.

With lots of prodding, lots of cutting, and lots of fluid to make the space around the knee so that the surgeon could see what she was doing while she prodded and cut…

I wasn’t expecting the surgery to hurt so much. I’m guessing that’s because Rich has been through such intense surgeries. In fact his most recent surgery was on his right knee, just like mine. But his involved both arthroscopic surgery and standard surgery with scalpels. So I thought my recovery would be a piece of cake.


While Rich was recuperating, he would grimace and sometimes moan as he moved his knee. That surprised me because he’s usually pretty quiet about pain.

I don’t like to display any emotion except joy, and it has to be a particularly joyous event to express joy.

I work hard to hide my emotions. I NEVER cry in front of people, even my family. I’ve only cried, really sob sucked, in front of another person once. That was on Rich’s shoulders during a particularly difficult accidental death.



While struggling with the post surgery pain, I kept telling anyone who asked that I was fine. After Rich asked for the thirtieth time, I finally admitted that I was hurting.

After talking about it for a few minutes, I decided to up  my pain pill dosage. I would still be within what the doctor prescribed, but I would take more than what Rich took during his more difficult surgery.

The extra pills helped some, but I still hurt–a lot. And it was particularly painful whenever I moved my knee a certain way. And, of course, I kept getting myself into that position as hard as I tried not to.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I grimaced and let out a long groan when my knee screamed in pain.

I didn’t scream out in pain. I just made an “I’m in pain!” face and let out a soft little groan.


And you know what? It worked!!!! I didn’t feel the pain as much.

I’ve wasted nearly 59 years not grimacing, groaning, or bitching to relieve pain.

Watch out, world! Here comes the new Queen of Groan, crying whenever she needs to!


My Little Blue Pills

I’m missing my little blue pills.

No, not THAT little blue pill…


THIS little blue pill…


Since I heard a small pop in my knee while playing pickleball two months ago, I’ve been on a steady diet of Aleve.

My knee was getting a bit better until about ten days ago. I was playing pickleball, of course, and heard a bigger POP.


Long story short… I go in for arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair a meniscus tear.

To prepare for surgery, I can’t take any Aleve or aspirin.

I had no idea that the Aleve I was taking was working so very, very well. And I miss it a lot… 🙂

“Gotta Go” App

I started watching Chelsea Handler’s new series on Neflix: Chelsea Does…


I’ve never watched anything by her before. She’s very raw and not for the faint at heart. But the show is very provocative and interesting.

In the series, she examines four different topics in depth: marriage, racism, Silicon Valley and drugs.

In the episode about the Silicon Valley, she examines technology and pitches an app that she came up with to help her get out of bad dates.

It’s called “Gotta Go”.


The app allows the user to generate excuses and set alarms for text messages and calls. To use Gotta Go, you tap on the emoji associated with the excuse you want to use, add the contact number to your address book, and set the alarm.

Basically, the app can send you a text, a phone call or an email based on an scenario that allows you to leave. But, here’s the brilliant part, you can show the text to your date to prove that there really is an emergency. Your mom is sick, your dogs have escaped your back yard, whatever…

Gotta Go would be perfect to use on a blind date when you want to leave early. Or set it up to send you an alarming note to get out of a boring meeting.

I just wish I would have thought it up.  🙂

If you want, you can read more about it here… 

Two Toots for Yoga

I went to my first yoga class at the YMCA yesterday.

It was marvelous and very different from what I expected.

The class was entitled “Restorative Yoga”. This type of yoga combines slowing down and opening the body through passive stretching.


Rather than changing quickly from pose to pose, we held each yoga pose for about ten minutes.

Within the hour-long class, we completed about five poses. Focusing on passive stretching, the poses were very restful.

Mature woman doing yoga


I loved it and I will take the class again and again.

All of the poses we did involved forward ‘folding’ and ‘bending’.


Because I had just returned from a five-day trip, my guts were churning because they virtually stop working while traveling.

Unfortunately for those near me, I tooted a couple of times.

I tried to cover them up with a cough, but I don’t think I was successful.


Oh well… I will just put my yoga mat next to a new victim at the next class.  🙂


Here’s a brief description (from in case you are interested to learn more about restorative yoga:

Restorative yoga is something completely different. It’s about slowing down and opening the body through passive stretching. If you take a restorative class, you may hardly move at all, doing just a few postures in the course of an hour.

During these long holds, your muscles relax deeply. It’s a completely different feeling from other types of yoga classes since props are used to support your body instead of your muscles. Restorative classes are very mellow, making them a good complement to more active practices and an excellent antidote to stress.

In restorative yoga, props are used extensively to support your body so that you can hold poses for longer. Postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses with the addition of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining.

For instance, a seated forward bend – paschimottanasana (see above) can become restorative by placing a bolster or several folded blankets on top of your legs so that your forward bend is fully supported with the entire torso resting on your props.

Barbie’s New Body

barbie (1)When I was a young girl, I played with a Barbie doll.

I wanted to look like Barbie–that perfectly wasp-like waist, those petite feet, and the long, artistic fingers.

Barbie was everything that I was not… Perfect.

After nearly sixty years, Barbie’s getting a ‘real’ make-over.

She will be made in 33 new styles–four new body styles with dozens of different features.

Now girls will play with a more realistic doll that will help them feel more comfortable in their own skin.  🙂

Pickleball Kool-Aid

I recently traveled to California to visit family.

Reno-PBActually, the REAL reason for my trip was to attend a pickleball camp and visit with Carol who also wanted to attend the camp.

The good news is that one of the family members I came to visit has recently started playing pickleball so I was able to combine both loves–family AND pickleball.

Pam-RobertPam recently retired from teaching 5th graders. She has some health issues and was worried about how she was going to fill her days after retirement.

I last saw Pam two years ago at a family reunion. While visiting at that reunion, I talked with her about pickleball. (Don’t all pickleball fanatics talk to others about pickleball whether their listeners want to hear about it or not? 🙂 )

Pam just said “Hmmmm…” and “Well, that sounds like fun…” while I talked with her about pickle. Actually I talked TO her about it, not WITH her about it.

glazed-eyesI’m pretty sure her eyes glazed over as I went on and on about this AMAZING sport! After she fell asleep on the couch, I went on to the next cousins to tell THEM all about pickle.

Pam was worried that her health issues wouldn’t allow her to play.

I didn’t convince Pam, but Myles, my nephew, went down to visit her six months ago. He’s a high school tennis player who picked up playing pickleball with my twin sister in Nevada.

He took four paddles and some balls and introduced Pam and a few neighbors into pickleball.

Pam was hooked! She fell in love with the sport and hasn’t stopped playing since.

pickleballSince her introduction to pickleball, Pam has accomplished a lot…

  • She started a club in her subdivision.
  • She’s convinced the home owner’s association to paint pickleball court lines on the seldom-used tennis courts.
  • She’s introduced the sport to her 80+ year old parents who now play twice a week.
  • She’s applied for and received a grant from the USAPA to help pay for nets and balls.

While attending the camp, Carol and I played with Pam’s club and gave a few helpful hints. Her group has a blast and is very eager to learn more about this fun game. They often meet to play on Friday nights and go out for pizza and beer afterwards.

Pam is still trying to convince others to try pickleball. She bugged one of her friends, Angie, for weeks to try it out.

Finally Angie gave in and came to an introductory session late one afternoon. Mainly, she just went to try to shut Pam up so that she wouldn’t keep talking about pickleball…

Angie called Pam early the next morning and said, “I drank the Kool-Aid! Buy me a paddle…”


Now Angie’s talking to others trying to get them to “Drink the Kool-Aid.” 🙂