My MS journey in a nutshell

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) hit me out of the blue and slammed me down hard.  It tried to take my life. That was 15 years ago and it has been quite a journey to wellness. Tragedy creates a deeper relationship within ones self, stripping one down to a raw, childlike state of survival.   My focus shifted to the bare basics of survival making each day an accomplishment.  Life wasn’t going the way I planned:  It was time to stop the whining, put up my dukes and find a way to figure it out. 

Changing my way of life was the only way to go:  Time to slowdown, to become the tortoise and not the hare.  Time for some finesse.  Time to be kind. Always one to enjoy life and look at the rosy side, it is imperative to be true to yourself.   Forgiveness?  Blame?  Grief?   So many emotions to discover and explore.  Some fun, some not.  Sit down, hold on, and take this ride for all it’s got to give.  Life with MS is ever changing and not predictable in the least. With a shift in attitude and new tools, life can be better with MS.   Follow me @thegirlwithms or find me at #takethatMS. 

This photo captures and says so much:  the hidden figures, the potential of life, the colors and reflections of the trees and life surrounding.   
#trout #whitewater #california #takethatms


New Intentions, the power of the Moon and right Choices

New Moon coming in 2 days, 6 hours.   What are you going to do to take advantage and say #takethatms?   Here is a post that reminds me to make a plan and do something different.

A few weeks ago a full moon graced our skies. I could feel the energy building. The strength was overwhelming. Frightening. Oh how I've loved to howl at the moon the past. To sit on the barn roof and fall into its power. But it's also a time where I can over do. Over indulge in food, coffee, wine, anything not necessarily good for me in quantity. Add a women's hormones into the mix and well, sometimes it's best to heed the warnings.
Photo and More about moons from PlanetforKids
Choices. That's what we have. Choices. During this full moon in the middle of June, I stole away to a friends house and chose to live a cleansing retreat for five days. From herbal teas to lots of water, healthy food, yoga and meditation, it was empowering: Feeling the energy of the moon and restoring the energy of the body mind and soul.
As my mind cleared I began thinking of new intentions. For me. For life. Not just goals, but actual intentions. Then ways to get there.
New intentions:
  • To live wholly and honestly.
  • To live and love with an open heart
  • To care for my world
How to get there:
  • Faith. Family. Friends.
  • To balance work and play
  • To optimize health
  • To be a productive member in my community
  • To grow residual income for my future
  • To continue growth as local business woman.
  • To continue to help others grow in life
  • To grow in meditation, yoga and body mind soul.
  • To love with an open heart
  • To live with an open heart
  • To care for demons and anxiety with love and an open heart
While this list can and will continue to grow, for now I feel content. Content to be present. Content with where I've come from. And content with where I am going.
I could have chosen a different direction during the full moon. One of destruction and discouragement. But I didn't. I made the right choices, lived with my multiple sclerosis and optimized my life.
This past Friday, June 27, was a new moon. A time to focus on these new intentions and to let go of old ones. Let go of spiderwebs in your attic. Let go of all that is unnecessary and set forth a path of positive choices for the coming month.
During the next two weeks the moon will gain in power as it reaches its full size. As it builds so will I. Continuing to find my new self within my illness. Continuing to make new intentions with which to grow my life. Continuing....

What are your new intentions for this month?

Join me in conversation. Let's do this!



Flank Steak, NBA Cookies and Multiple Sclerosis

Those who know me are familiar with my love for local agriculture.  One way I like to support local ag is to sign up for a monthly meat buyers club.  For years we had a chicken farm and raised birds for the some of the best restaurants on the Central Coast.   But since it closed the search for a really well raised bird was on.   Then one day at farmer's market, was a small booth offering locally raised livestock.  Skeptical and spoiled by country-raised foods of Templeton, I bought a chicken.  And never looked back.  Delicious. Beautiful.  Grass-raised outside.  Just like we did.  Just like grandma and great grandma raised.  

 Autonomy Farms located outside of Bakersfield, California.  Since it's about 90 minutes from us they bring their beautifully raised and produced beef, chicken, lamb and pork products to our farmers market in La Canada Flintridge, California.  Each month my box has a variety of cuts of meats and one full chicken.  Here are some of the fun things made this last month with my box.  Please note that many of my recipes are from Ree Drumond, the Pioneer Woman.   I lived and worked on horse/cattle ranches while in university and understand what she makes.  Also, she likes her meat nice and rare, just like my folks, so if I follow her guidelines, the gang usually approves.

Love me a roasted chicken.  I make it very easy and follow this recipe as guidelines:   Basically pat it dry, and generously salt it.  Salt the cavity and fill with lemon/full garlic bulb cut in half and herbs - whatever is growing in the garden.  Sometimes I take butter and herb and smear it between the skin and the breast meat.  What am I saying, I always smear between the meat and skin.   Then drizzle a melted stick of butter all over th chicken.  Not all of it but about half the stick.  Melt it all, drizzle the bird, roast for 20 minutes, baste with butter, roast for another 25, take it's temperature.  Ready to pull out?  then keep it in roaster.  Then simply roast at 425 for 90 minutes or so, about 20 minutes a pound or until done.  When done, take out and let rest.   

This bird made a tasty chicken pot pie.  Delicious.  After it rested remove the meat from the bird and cut up/shred about 4 cups.  (remember to make stock out of the carcass).  I sauted up diced onion, red and green bell pepper,  and carrots.   Then added a couple of tablespoons of  flours and let that cook for a bit while stirring.  Then added homemade veggie stock (because that's what I had, of course chicken stock would work great).  And let it all simmer for awhile.  At some point added frozen corn and peas - cause these just belong in a pot pie.   Simmering away and added back the chicken.  Now everything should be in the pot.  Good.   Then cooled it off and stuck it in fridge because I didn't need to cook it till the next day.  

The dough was flour, butter and eggs.  With fresh thyme leaves added.  Quite buttery and delicious.  Made it using pastry cutters.  Felt good to finish this one.  

 Popped it in the oven and voila!  


While setting up for dinner, put together some home made mozzarella cheese marinated in local herbs and olive oil.  And made a salmon spread off some left overs.  Tasty and healthy.   

Here's the whole plate.  Home made chili (from dried beans and locally raised grass fed beef), chicken pot pie, LA Laker/LA Clipper cookies, salad and rose bordeaux style.  


And as if that wasn't enough next piece of meat in the buyers club was the rump roast.  Mmmmm.  Pot roast.  But wait, let's do something juicy and tasty for everyone (I love pot roast but not everyone's favorite).  What to do with the rump roast?  Make a roast beast (so easy and everyone loved it!).  Tender, Juicy, and rare!   

The morning I was planning on making this beef I realized there was a meeting down at City Hall for a couple of hours.  Hmmm.  Here was a recipe that called for a high heat of 500 for about 14 minutes (7 per pound) then turn off the oven for two hours.  Do not open the oven.  Well, OK, this sounds good.  And BOY was it!   TASTY   and so nice and rare.  Made for great sandwiches during the week.  

Nice and crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside  It was juicier the more we cut into it.  Everyone loved it!   

Inspired by a pioneer woman episode, here is the flank steak salad.  The flank steak was one cut received in my meat buyers club, so here we go!    Oh and did I mention the onion rings?  Dad LOVES onion rings so this should be a big hit.  And I happen to have buttermilk left over from another project.   This tasty marinade was easy:  Olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic, ginger, garlic, salt pepper, sriracha, and whatever else got in the way.  

My folks went to farmers market because I was busy.  They picked up some great little onions, perfect for these delicate fries.  Simply soak the onion slices in the buttermilk for an hour or so. Then fry up in the peanut oil.  We were so low in oil but it worked out OK.  Whew!   Always keep your pantry stocked with the essentials.  

And then dish it all up into one big salad.  So tasty!   Added fresh tomatoes, dressing and goat cheese.  Blue cheese would've rocked but we didn't have any.  


What young boy/man doesn't like NBA cookies of their favorite teams?   House divided in our family but a good time to share wins and losses.   Sugar cookies with printable sugar labels.  Adorable!

So, this is how I say #takethatMS, finding inspiration in the kitchen.  
We have to take it when we can.  Or give it when we can.  Been a month of inspiration and getting things done.   The feeling of making lots of homemade food and being able to freeze it for later is a good one, it's a one of accomplishment and appreciation. 


Life Coach Sessions - Living Better - #TakeThatMS

A Plan for Living Better with MS

Set the tone.  Define the coming year.  

May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be at peace

This quote from CALM meditation app really struck a chord with me.   It’s my mantra right now and boy do I need it.  Feeling tipsy in life.  Didn’t realize how tight I was wound.  I am wound.   Too much caffeine and drinking.   Too much bad/rich foods.  So many warning signs to slow down.  So finally, I am.  It was my last hoorah for a while, end of 2016, end of my 40’s, time for a new leaf. 

And boy am I liking the way this leaf is looking.  Once again, inspired and visualizing a lovely life as a writer and blogger.  No more marketing. Slowing down on community events and organizations.  Slowing down and focusing:  MS patient expert, writer, blogger, DAR regent and Trails advocate.  Daughter and Aunt.  Friend.  Kind and compassionate.  Time to watch my tension and anger.  Been really short lately. 

The meditation app, Calm, has helped tremendously.   May I be happy.  May I be safe. May I be healthy.  May I be at peace.   Breathing deep as the mantra repeats in my mind…  #wevegotthis 

Join me every Thursday at 12:30pm for our free online support group:  #TakeThatMS and let's work together to find the best way to live better with multiple sclerosis.  

Each week I review some ideas, tips and tricks for living better with MS.  There's often homework and soon the worksheets will be posted on this website.  

Then we open it up for discussion if you wish to join us.  It's all optional, easy and free.   

I remember when diagnosed how I knew nothing about MS.  And this was 15 years ago so there was nothing online and 1 or 2 books out on the subject.   

Well, it's a different world these days.  Incredible research on MS, how it works, what might help it and more.  We are learning a lot, applying it to life, and living better because of it.  

Click here to join us on Thursdays, 12:30pm PST.  


Join us weekly and create a plan for a better year and a better you.   Can't join us?  Check out the recorded sessions of our weekly #TakeThatMS online support group for folks affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).  

Are you allowing yourself to be happy?  to be safe?  to be healthy and at peace?  

Together we've got this.


We start with a vision statement and inspiration board, we create a plan to be safe.  Together we work on being healthy and at peace.  Then in the following months we will work on these while expanding in other areas.  


Be Happy    
Click Here for Full Session

Click Here for Full Session

UPCOMING SESSIONS (click on link to join or check back for recording)

FEBRUARY - To be announced.  

#TakeThat MS

Tuesday Funny

#takethatms #goinggoinggone #mspals 


Stress busting away the New Year

In planning for the new year I came across this article I wrote last year for Mango Health   Resonates quite nicely this time of year.


Cheese Making Day and MS

Its the first of the new year and I've been busy making and enjoying cheese!   All kinds of cheese from Cashew/Vegan cheese to Queso Blanco, to homemade goat cheese and farmers cheese.   I love cheese and so curious about the process.  It was on my bucket list but is now checked off.  

Also, purchased were supplies to make more cheeses, like cheddar and mozzarella.   The learning curve is fun and fast.  Basically spent the week on Pinterest, at the market and then in front of the stove.   Next time more milk will be used so more cheese can be produced.  Since it was my first time, just a quart of milk was used for each of the three homemade recipes.  Two from cows milk and one from fresh raw Goats milk.  

To get me in the mood, some queso blanco with WSU Cougar Gold was in order.  This cheese was not homemade by me but made by students at Washington State University and is one of my absolute favorite.  So, melted that into my white sauce (made with rich homemade vegetable stock) and added a previously frozen, now roasted, jalapeno pepper.  With a bowl of chips and salsa I sat down to a day of football and pinterest.  

Queso Blanco made with WSU Cougar Gold Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos

Had some raw cashews so soaked them up over night and processed them the next day with 1) garlic and olive oil and 2) Sriracha spiced.   I used this recipe.  Yum!  

Then came the real fun - the whole fresh milk cheese!  


First two are a farmers cheese made from cow's milk. Click here for recipe. The third one is goat cheese with lemon and thyme.   Delicious and so easy!  

After heating the milk, add the acid and let it curdle away.  Then separate the curdles from the whey, drain, press and voila - CHEESE!

Farmers Cheese (cow) with Blueberry Salt from Iceland

fresh rosemary and garlic
Bundle herbs in muslin, tie with string
use bundles to infuse milk while it's warming up on the stove
Farmers Cheese infused with Garlic and Rosemary
Fresh flowers and herbs sprinkles in muslin before draining.

Next made was a Chevre, or goat cheese.  Same process as above, using a simple acid (lemon juice) to curdle the milk.   I used this recipe but there are a lot out there.  I used fresh thyme and lemon juice at end to make a light, refreshing cheese.   Just this morning it was consumed with sour dough baguette and fresh black/raspberries from our local farmers market.  Delicious!  (consumed before a photo could be taken but darn it was good)

What a way to celebrate the Golden Globes and La La Land, a beautiful and inspirational movie.    Fresh homemade cheese (also had some fresh fig jam).  Feeling quite spoiled, a feeling to treasure on this gloomy, rainy Monday.  

At the end of the day one has lots of Whey left over.  In commercial cheese making this whey is considered toxic and buried in the ground.  But in home cheese making this whey is valuable!   Last night it was used to flavor the water in our version of Uncle Ben's rice.  Dang, it was good!

Next on the agenda is to try some Feta and Mozzarella.  Both of these require rennet, which was purchased on Amazon and ready to use.  (No one around town had it in store or would have purchased it locally).  

So, what does cheese making and MS have to do with each other?  Well, anytime one can check something off their bucket list is a good thing, and since we never know how fast/hard/where the MS will hit next we need to take advantage of our life possibilities as best we can.  

My weekly talks at #TakethatMS online support group are focusing on this very topic, how to take advantage of life's possibilities.  Did you see La La Land?   I know, I know, so Hollywood.  But heck, I'm a born and bred So Cal Hollywood Girl and this movie quite resonated with me.  The line, where she talks about one's potential.  That's it; the key to life.  Maximizing our potential.  

Now, throw in a disability like MS and this potential seems to go out the door.  But wait, let's look at this potential again.  Revise the picture you see of yourself in the coming year, or five years.  How do you want people to remember you by?  to think of you as?  How do YOU want to feel about yourself as life ends?  Every year and each decade my bucket list changes based on MS and my life.  

Sometimes we just need to remove an item from our list, knowing that it most likely will not happen in our lifetime.  Realizing this is painful and sad as it reminds us of the disabling affects of multiple sclerosis, something we did not choose to get.  

But when this happens, when we need to remove something from our life wish list, then immediately replace it with something else.  Something a bit more attainable.  Not able to downhill ski or snowboard anymore?  What about snow shoeing if able to walk?   The point here is to look for options to allow you to enjoy your life more.  Some of my bucket list items are from "when I get really old, I'll play golf".  Well, that golfing option is looking pretty good right now and one that may not be an option for me for long.   

Maybe the new item is smaller, less demanding.  Totally different.  It doesn't matter.  Just find something new that inspires you and go for it.  Today, mine was cheese making.   And now I'm looking forward to learning more about this process and trying to types.  And then getting to eat it all



Take 5

One of those days?  Remember to take five. It will Recharge your battery.

It's worth it! 

One of my favorite tea blends.  Gentle mint and chrysthanthum flowers.