Strong Words, One Year On

One year ago I published my first book, Strong Words and Simple Truths: The Courage to Communicate.

Now more than ever, the topics covered in this edition are critically important and relevant in our polarized world. Pervasive virtual communication has left many people feeling isolated, lonely and struggling to communicate effectively.

Areas of focus include: Communication, Toastmasters, Veterans, Agile, Health and Science.

Click on link below to order now.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HFTBDN8/ref=nodl_?dplnkId=291723f2-e7eb-4ad1-bb69-adba641bd9d5

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Fear of Needles: No

Sick of Shots: Yes

Skeptical about Public Health Officials’ Guidance:  Definitely

After receiving four injections in my arm in 2021, I wasn’t too excited to get a fifth shot in my shoulder this past week.

I experienced a good bit of trepidation as I entered my doctor’s office in Phoenix, Arizona.  The plan was to get a corticosteroid injected into my shoulder capsule  (bursa) to help with the pain and immobility I have been suffering with since the beginning of 2022.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Like millions of people around the world, I received three doses of the mRNA vaccine in 2021.  My frozen shoulder started shortly after 12/28/21, when the Wal-Green’s pharmacist administered a flu shot and a COVID booster shot in the same arm.   While I don’t know if these shots were the direct cause of my shoulder issue, the location and the timing are awfully coincidental.   At this point, I am in no hurry to get another mRNA vaccine in any arm until there are longer-term, controlled, randomized studies conducted.

So now, after seven months of physical therapy, yoga, massage, chiropractic adjustments, healthy eating and oral medication, I am giving corticosteroids injections into my shoulder a shot. 

Healing from frozen shoulder is a long and frustrating mind game and I hope that this latest treatment helps me get past the plateau I have hit. 

The Best Medicine

It’s so good to be sitting on the porch of a cute, cozy cabin and reflect on what is important in life. Health, family and friends top the list of most valued gifts.

Spending time in the greenery of nature is soothing to my soul and my morning walk did me good. This fun sign below caught my eye and got me thinking. What do I want and how do I plan to get it? Where should I go and why? So many questions are swirling in my mind.

The cabin I’m staying in is small and quaint. There is no Wi-Fi or Internet and uploading the photo above took over 5 minutes. During the time I waited, I thought more about what I wanted to share here with you. It slowed me down even more to reflect and creatively choose my words.

Here are some of my answers to the questions:

Who: Me

What: Calm my mind and heal my shoulder

When: Now

Where: In the woods of Arizona

Why: Life is short and I want to alleviate the pain

How: Appreciating the beauty of the verdant trees and the sounds of the birds.

Getting away from the day-to-day grind of work and chores is a wonderful treat. Strong and simple – just the way I like it!

So many of us are hurting right now, physically and emotionally, and my wish is that you can take a moment for yourself and ask- Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

The honest answers may be your best sign post to get you moving in the right direction.

Letting Go to Unfreeze my Shoulder

It’s 102 degrees today in Phoenix, Arizona and my left shoulder is still frozen.  It all started six months ago when I noticed that it hurt to move or lift my left arm.  I chronicled my experience and action plan in my last blog titled:  Frozen Shoulder, Autoimmune Diseases and COVID-19 Vaccines.

In the last two months I’ve made some progress toward healing my arm and shoulder and am happy to report that the stabbing pains are mostly gone and I can put on my shirt with relative ease.  My range of motion, however, is not much better than it was four weeks ago. 

I am not a patient person by nature and it’s been very hard for me to slow down and accept the fact that my left arm can’t move or function like it used to.

Five years ago this summer, I wrote an article titled Mighty Gumby and the Importance of Flexible Strength where I reiterated some great advice I received in my Austin yoga class : “Flexibility needs to be supported by strength and stability”. 

As I look back on the 2017 photo of my back, shoulder and arms, I can’t help but feel a bit sad and dejected at my current state in 2022.  At this point, I can barely raise my left arm to be parallel to the ground much less flex my bicep. 

Me in June 2022
Me in July 2017

My friend and Yoga Therapist, Nancy Martch recently asked me,  “What is your arm injury telling you?”.  In my mind I rephrased the question to – What have I learned from this painful and physically limiting condition?

Here are my thoughts about recovering from an illness or injury:

  1. Be patient with your body.
  2. Slow down and appreciate the small, micro-improvements you see or feel.
  3. Be flexible and adaptable with what you can and cannot do.
  4. Be accepting of the situation and have gratitude for the strong and healthy parts of your body.  (I have new respect and appreciation for my legs and back).
  5. Do not compare the injured area or side of your body to its healthy counterpart (in my case my left arm to my right arm). 
  6. Do not compare yourself to anyone else.
  7. Let go of any expectations.
  8. Continually observe, analysis, research and explore new possibilities for healing and recovery.
  9. Listen closely to your body for it will tell you what it needs.
  10. Be kind to yourself.

These past six months have been a humbling experience for me as I come to accept that my recovery could take over a year.  I am doing all that I can to keep moving and positively support my body’s immune system.  The systems, habits and actions I employ include:

  • Yoga therapy
  • Physical therapy and weight lifting
  • Swimming
  • Massage
  • Anti-Inflammatory diet

A slow healing process is never easy but I’m optimistic that I will be able to lift my left over my head some day.  I have put the Mighty Gumby back on my desk so I can be reminded of the importance of flexibility and a positive attitude.

Here’s to Letting Go and healing my frozen shoulder!

Frozen Shoulder, Autoimmune Diseases and the COVID-19 Vaccine

In December of 2020 I wrote an article titled “Risk and Reward: Why I Will Take the COVID-19 Vaccine”.  I even published it in the Health and Science chapter of my book Strong Words and Simple Truths.

I took my first Moderna mRNA vaccine in March of 2021 and had my booster administered at the end of December 2021.

I had done a large amount of reading and research on the safety and efficacy of the new mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 in late 2020 and made what I thought was the best decision for my family and me at the time.   Knowing what I know now in June 2022, I don’t think I would make the same decisions.  For one thing, I definitely would NOT get the flu shot and the booster shot in the same arm on the same day.  I’m not sure that the vaccines were cause of my current medical condition but it may have been the trigger.  Allow me to explain what has happened to me in the last five months.

In April 2022, four months after getting my booster shot, I was diagnosed with Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis).  I had never heard of this painful condition before and have since learned that people with thyroid autoimmune disease have a higher risk for getting it.  Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells.   Frozen Shoulder is an inflammatory disease that takes many months to recover from.

My symptoms include severely limited movement of my left arm and shoulder and sharp, stabbing pains in my upper arm (due to nerve impingement).    These issues started a few weeks after the double injections in the same arm and progressively worsened over three months.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Over the last two months, I have taken extremely deliberate actions to try to lessen my pain and heal the underlying issue that is causing this illness.   

Here is what I have done or am doing:

  1. Got an MRI of my upper arm.  Consulted with Orthopedic Doctor who diagnosed the Adhesive Capsulitis. He prescribed an NSAID that I take daily.
  2. Visited Chiropractor, Peter Nemanic, who has helped release some of the main trigger points in my upper back and shoulder muscles.
  3. Received numerous therapeutic massages on back, arms and neck.
  4. Completed a 21-day purification and cleansing dietary program  (Standard Process products).
  5. Seeing Physical Therapist, Christine Anderson, who is helping to release the nerve impingement in my back and improve my range of motion.
  6. Working with Naturopathic Doctor, Todd Winton, who put me on a treatment protocol to decrease my inflammation and stabilize my immune system.
  7. Seeing Yoga Therapist, Nancy Martch, to increase body awareness and mindful movement in order to create more ease in the body and more efficient postural and movement patterns—all with the intention of alleviating pain and creating better health.
  8. Participating in Stretch Fit training classes at Mountainside Fitness gym.  This is for lower body flexibility.
  9. Daily stretching exercises for my arm and shoulder.  These are supported, passive movements since the shoulder joint is still restricted.
  10. Drinking more water and significantly limiting alcohol intake.
  11. Daily supplements:  Vitamin D3, Zinc, Fish Oil and Vitamin B Complex.
  12. Walking and/or easy jogging 4-5 times a week.
  13.  Keeping detailed logs and journals of my symptoms and treatment progress.
  14. Eating a healthier diet with less sugar, dairy and grains.

It is my hope that I can regain full range of motion of my left arm in the coming weeks and that my body’s immune system will reset and stabilize since taking the Moderna COVID-19 booster shot.

I strongly believe that it is important that we each understand our own risk factors and medical conditions that may impact our immune systems’ response to vaccines.   Our unique health profiles and risks should be well understood prior to taking any new medications.

With so many Americans having autoimmune diseases (an estimated 25 million), I feel it is critical to research and consider the risks versus rewards during our new age of COVID-19.

NOTE:  I am not a medical doctor and you should consult your own physician for medical advice on these issues.

Photo by Steve Smull

A Book Is Born!

I did it!

I published my first book, Strong Words and Simple Truths: The Courage to Communicate, on Amazon today.

To those who have been following and reading my blog over the past 8 years, I thank you for your interest and support of my thoughts, ideas and stories.

Words can not express the joy and elation I am feeling today. This is my baby. My legacy. My tribute to my family, friends, fellow veterans, and Toastmasters.

Over the last few months I have created new content and stories to weave the last 8 years of articles together. The book has 8 Chapters (Epics/Themes) where I grouped the over 80 blogs.

The chapters are: Communications, Toastmasters, Creativity, Veterans, Gratitude, the 1980s, Agile, and Science/Health.

What is the book about?

  • Courage, Communication and the American Spirit
  • Strength, Tolerance and Respect
  • Balance, Perspective and Change
  • Science, Health and History
  • Gratitude, Remembrance and Joy
  • Truth and Common Sense
  • Heroes, Adventure and Fun
  • Veterans, Poppies and Honor
  • Creativity, Toastmasters and the 1980s

An amazingly talented young woman illustrated the book with a fun circus theme that my mascot Ernie the Hedgehog endorses. Kudos to Alex Delit Garcia for her great work.

I don’t know what is next but boy am I excited and energized to share this news with you.

If you would like to purchase this fun compilation with a new, creative adventure throughout, please click on the image below for your very own copy. Here’s the book’s website.

Thank you!

What’s It All About?

Since 2013, I’ve been sharing my thoughts, ideas and stories on this blog. I enjoy writing and will continue to post here with fun and interesting photos that are harder to share in a printed book.

As I have stated in my last post, I am about to publish my first book on Amazon and have been mentally preparing for the inevitable question- What is the book about?

Since Strong Words and Simple Truths is a compilation of nine years of articles on a wide range of subjects, the answer to that query is not fitting into my normally pithy response box.

During my bike ride this morning, I came up with the following bullets to describe what the book is about.

I hope to have it live on Amazon in October 2021. Please check out www.thecouragetocommunicate.com for more details.

  • Balance, Perspective and Change
  • Strength, Tolerance and Respect
  • Science, Health and History
  • Gratitude, Remembrance and Joy
  • Creativity, Toastmasters and the 1980s
  • Heroes, Adventure and Fun
  • Truth and Common Sense
  • Veterans, Poppies and Honor
  • Courage, Communication and the American Spirit
Illustration by Alex Delit Garcia

Big News for Strong Words

I have exciting news to share!

I am working to publish my first book Strong Words and Simple Truths: The Courage to Communicate based on the contents of this blog.

Below is a sneak preview of the book’s Foreword. I plan to publish it on Amazon in Q4 2021.

http://www.thecouragetocommunicate.com

There are over one hundred and seventy thousand commonly used words in the English language, but most people employ just a fraction of them in their daily lives. Many people yearn to find and articulate the truth. The courage to communicate has many meanings; each of us struggling to get our voices heard brings our own understanding and desires to the process. I bring my understanding of communication and wish to be heard to this book.

Growing up in a large family in the northeastern United States, I learned the value of direct and powerful communication. I still appreciate the emphatic and heartfelt style of my New Jersey upbringing and have spent my adult life honing my skills through key programs, paths, and career choices. 

I believe that strong words have the power to catalyze change, that direct communication has value, and that words have energy.I believe that words are best when they are consumable, easily understood, and impactful.

I also believe that simplicity in communication is elegant. Simple is clear and honest and true. The most delicious recipes have five or fewer ingredients. My Mom’s delicious rice pudding comes to mind. But alas, communication is not always as simple as a recipe.

From this understanding came the title of my first WordPress blog, Strong Words and Simple Truths, which I began writing in 2013. The title encompasses everything I believe about communication, and I have not changed the focus or intent of the phrase in my nine years of blogging. 

I always have an idea that I’d like to share, so I’ve continued thinking, speaking, and blogging about communication since 2013. I am rarely at a loss for words.

Some of the articles I published on my blog were adapted from speeches I gave at Toastmaster meetings. Other times, I would challenge myself to convert a blog article into a speech. I found the challenges of the back-and-forth creations fun and fascinating. This process taught me the important lesson that the spoken word is quite different from the written word, and through this hard work I learned to be more flexible and creative in my communication style.

This book invites you to accompany me on a journey of discovery through a curated selection of over eighty articles from my blog. When I decided to compile these articles into a book, I knew that the same title, Strong Words and Simple Truths, would perfectly express what I am trying to convey. Little did I know when I started writing my blog that the extreme events of 2020 and 2021 would make my pithy title and subtitle all the more relevant and important.

So here I am, sharing in the most powerfully vulnerable way I have ever attempted. Blogging and public speaking are one thing, but publishing a book has brought me to a whole new level of commitment to my beliefs and my message.

The format of this book was inspired by author and fellow veteran, Ed Latimore. His book, Not Caring What Other People Think Is a Superpower: Insights from a Heavy Boxer, was an outstanding compilation of his tweets, which includes strong and powerful lessons of life.  

In this book, I blend the creative power of agility, communication, history, and science to create a patchwork quilt of my ideas, stories, and dreams.

I am honored to share the stories of the people and personalities who shaped who I am today. While I may not have been completely fearless as a child, the role models I emulated were feisty, strong, and spirited. Many of the themes in this book were inspired by my mom, Virginia, my brother, Bill, and my sister, Barbara. During elementary and high school, I was encouraged and guided by many amazing and motivational teachers and coaches.Ihad role models from the entertainment world as well. I desired to be as daring as Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett and as strong as Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman.

These role models were heroes to me, and they inspired me to branch out and achieve the substantial and audacious goals I set for myself. I hope they will inspire you to do the same. 

As a young adult, I had two different career aspirations. In high school, I wanted to be a medical doctor. After college, I considered becoming a science teacher.The common thread through my life is the desire to help people, share knowledge, and train others to learn new skills.

In this book, I’ll also share lessons from mymilitary service, which taught me the importance of KISS- Keep It Simple Soldier (or Stupid as some would joke). As a US Army Signal Corps officer, I supported combat and support units on the battlefield with precise and effective communication infrastructure and procedures.When lives depend on clear, concise, and timely messages, you learn to value their quality greatly.

My wish is that you find this book entertaining and educational, and I hope that it motivates you in creative and unique ways. I also pray that these words, thoughts, and expressions pay adequate tribute to the brave and selfless heroes in our world. 

I have grouped the blog articles into eight sections. Each article includes the original publication date and appears as it originally appeared on the blog (with some proofreading to correct minor issues). I stitched the articles together much as a quilter would piece together colorful fabrics to create an intricate and appealing pattern. To keep things fun, I chose a theme from the magical world of the circus.

The sections of this book represent the main interests, influences, values, priorities, and passions in my life, each linked to a symbolic element from the circus.To aid the reader in remembering the sections and their symbols, I created a brief tall tale to open the book. 

  1. Ringmaster—Communication
  2. Big Tent—Toastmasters
  3. Juggler—Creativity
  4. Wheels—Agile
  5. Strong Man—Veterans, Remembrance and Traditions
  6. Laughter—Connections and Gratitude
  7. Unicycle—The 1980s
  8. Animals—Science and Truth

When you read the Table of Contents, you can think of it as a menu for a smorgasbord dinner which allows you to select the topics that most appeal to you. It’s a collection of various perspectives, angles, and tastes.

Come on, let’s run away and join the circus for a few hours! 

Word Phobia Kills Creativity

Words have power. 

As a public speaker in Toastmaster clubs for over 25 years, I understand and appreciate the impact of a well-crafted phrase.   Words have the immense power to inspire, educate, persuade and entertain.

Now certain ideas, phrases and books are deemed inappropriate and unacceptable.   Entertainment in the form of humor and satire is slowly being extinguished.   The creative spark of many minds is being snuffed out.

In the name of “compliance” and “correctness” we have limited and constrained our ability to share and discuss ideas.  Only the government-approved ideas are allowed on the most powerful and prolific platforms.  Those in power control the narrative and are now limiting the free exchange and expression of thought.

Like the lockdowns of the past year, this is not a healthy trend.  The impact of the current silencing is devastatingly sad. 

Some say that laughter is the best medicine.  Entertainment and light-hearted comedy can help heal our lonely and wounded souls. 

Humor is a uniquely human superpower that is being taken away when we need it most.

Photo by Steve Smull

I do not condone angry, hurtful speech but the recent crack down on “violations of community standards” is a bit harsh and extreme in my view.  

Why do some powerful entities want to keep everyone so sad, anxious and upset?  Do they want people do remain lonely, isolated and frustrated?

More and more I am witnessing creative creators being suppressed.  These creators have been a shining light of entertaining wordplay and comic relief through out this year of dark fear and despair.  These fun and joyful voices are now stifled and suppressed. 

The fear of the virus is now being replaced with the fear of words.   The wide, rich and expressive vocabulary of the English language is being brutally pruned by oppressive control freaks.  

At the rate things are going, I soon won’t be able to write or speak the words “oppressive control freaks” without being banned or punished.

As I continue on my creative journey of expression, I hope that my courage and resolve remain steady and strong in the face of increasing pressure to conform and be quiet.

Word phobia is a sad new condition that I hope will be treated by an infusion of ingenious humor and reasonable common sense.

As the world begins to heal and open up, freedom will beget happiness.  Happiness is sustained by fun entertainment.  

Words have the power to entertain, let’s not take that potential away.

The Silence of the Lambs is a thrilling book, but I don’t want a world of the Quieting of the Sheep.

Photo by Steve Smull

Ways to Connect

There are many ways to get your message to others.

Written words, spoken words, gestures, music, songs, drawings, photos, smoke signals, flags and sign language are methods to communicate with others.

Today, I’m experimenting with a new way to connect.

Click below for my first 30 second emoji video.

More thoughts, ideas and messages to come in this short, fun format. There are so many cool animals and avatars to choose from.

Ernie our hedgehog is ready for Spring

Below is Ernie playing shuffleboard at a VFW post in Leander, Texas.