Archive for: motivation

Adventures in Travel

Family travel

I’ve been going a bit stir crazy the past few weeks and just recently figured out why.  The long winter and a late spring have left me with a prolonged case of cabin fever.  I partially blame my restlessness on my ethnic roots.  My ancestors rarely ever stayed in one place for an extended period of time which may be why I’m genetically predisposed to being a perpetual travel bug.  Much like military families, I learned a lot about travel early in my life.  My parents were always loading us kids into the station wagon to destinations unknown, well, at least it felt that way to four kids in sweatshirts, jeans and hushpuppy shoes. So, while I scope out travel brochures and exotic destinations, I thought it might be fun to figure out if travel is good for you after all! 

Spring It On!

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Whether it’s due to deployment, PCS travel or a family vacation, we’ve all found ourselves in an airport lounge more than a few times, I’m certain.  Rather than slumping down in my seat with my eyes transfixed by my smart phone or tablet, I prefer to look up and observe my surroundings.  Life tells a story when you take a moment to really see what’s going on around you, doesn’t it?  A few years ago, I observed a group of tall young women likely off to a team sports event as they had their warmup suits on and duffles full of gear.  When their flight was called for boarding, one decidedly petite member of the team got up and turned to get in line.  I noticed how small she was and wondered if she had what it took to compete.  Doubt turned to certainty when I read the back of her jacket:  “Speed is good…Trample the Weak. Hurdle the dead.”  Okay, so maybe you’re not that ruthless, but at least willing to take it up a notch.  What better time to see what you’re made of than right now?  

NikkiFitness Faves Spring 2014

Nikki Fitness

NikkiFitness Faves

Workout in Warm Weather on Land or Water with These Spring Trainer Tested and Approved Products! See these NikkiFitness Faves in action on her recent Fox & Friends segment.

Are You a Captain America?

Captain America1

I consider my sister-​​in-​​law, Dana, a real sister to me.  She is kind, compassionate, fun, wonderfully opinionated and loves me unconditionally.  I always welcome her advice and recommendations and she has never steered me wrongly.  Last summer she said I must watch The Avengers movie.  What a fun ride!  It was cool to see so many of my favorite characters like Thor, Ironman, and the Hulk joining forces to fight evil.  The only challenge was that I knew nothing about Captain America.  Friday night, I finally watched the first Captain America movie and can’t wait to see the sequel that apparently was a blockbuster at this past weekend’s opener. What caught my attention was the desire this scrawny little guy had to serve his country and sacrifice for the greater good of mankind.  Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far to find those willing to raise their shields to protect our country.  From our incredible service men and women to every day difference-​​makers, we all have a little bit of Captain America in us.

Butt Out

heartTshirt

I feel honored and blessed to have a grandfather who was part of the Greatest Generation as a veteran of World War II.  Although I don’t recall him sharing many stories from the war, I always found it interesting that he never smoke or drank during a time when it was common and, quite frankly, fashionable to do so.  I feel equally fortunate that my parents never smoked.  So, it came as a complete shock when I was old enough to discover that my uncles smoked cigarettes.  Fearing for their health, my siblings and I hatched plans to bury their cartons of cigarettes on numerous occasions.   While that may not have been the best method to get them to quit, it at least got their attention.  At the time, I didn’t know why it was dangerous to smoke, I just knew that I loved my uncles and hated cigarettes.  If you, or your sweetheart, still light up, the following heart disease facts may help you bury your butts too!

Have a Heart

Heart Health Hand

Living in a rural state like Maine, it’s easy to get spoiled by the solitude.  With no traffic to speak of, nights are still and silent which makes for a perfect sleeping environment.  It also makes it easier to get startled when an errant noise jolts you out of bed with your pounding heart leading the way.  Isn’t it amazing how much we don’t think about our hard-​​working hearts until they remind us in a big way?  Since February is a month in which we celebrate the decadence of Valentine’s Day along with the prudence of heart health month, let’s find a happy medium to enjoy both!

Drink This Not That!

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet

Early in the 2013–2014 football season, I had every confidence that I would be watching my beloved Packers play in the Superbowl this Sunday only to see my hopes fade as Aaron Rodgers was out with an injury for several games and, of course, a playoff loss that quickly ended their season.  So, I turned to my runner up, the Patriots, and, yet again, my dreams were dashed as were theirs when they lost to the Broncos.  Undaunted, I pinned my faith to the fast & furious 49ers.  As you can tell, I don’t place any bets on my predictions!  At least my fourth favorite is playing in the Superbowl this year, although, I’d better not say to whom I betroth my allegiance for fear of jinxing the outcome.  The reason for my football rant is seated in what you’ll be doing this Sunday and beyond.  Drinks and snacks will be the norm for Superbowl Sunday and, while it’s okay to share good cheer, you may want to rethink your cocktail concoctions.

Baby Steps with Bob

Bill Murray

Bill Murray is one of my favorite comedic actors…I don’t know how he does it, but for me, he just stands there funny.  From iconic SNL skits to wacky movies like Stripes and Groundhog Day, Murray portrays an ordinary guy who comes out on top no matter the circumstances.   As we begin the new year with lofty resolutions and grand plans to transform our lives, I suddenly thought about Bill Murray in “What About Bob?”  Bill plays Bob Wiley, an off-​​centered but endearing phobic who receives misguided advice from Dr. Leo Marvin played by Richard Dreyfuss in the form of the doctor’s new book entitled Baby Steps.   Fearful of everything, Bob takes his book and his pet fish in hand and baby-​​steps his way to Dr. Marvin’s vacation home.  “Baby steps get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle…baby steps into the elevator…I’m on the elevator!”   Maybe we could take some advice from Bob and take consistent steps instead of quantum leaps to achieve our goals this year.  

Rein It In!

Christmas Santa

My favorite Christmas memory is the four of us kids sitting on the top of the stairs waiting for my parents to wake up so we could all bound down the stairs like a heard of elephants and dive into our presents.  What I didn’t mention was the mega-​​light Dad had mounted on his home movie recorder to capture each precious moment — I’m certain it could be seen from space.  It’s a wonder we didn’t all trip over our bathrobes and land in a heap from the blinding spotlight that obscured our vision and probably did permanent retinal damage in the process!  Fortunately, our smart phones and digital devices make Christmas morning far less traumatic, or do they?  For some of us, the holiday season is anything but jolly.  Before stress trips you up, take a cue from Santa on how this season can be smooth sailing.  

More Thanksgiving

Abraham Lincoln

Please forgive this delayed Thanksgiving message.  We were in the throws of a floor tiling project in advance of Christmas company and the time slipped away.  Although the day has passed, I am reminded by my friend David at Snipers Skate Shop, that we need to celebrate Thanksgiving as a “Mindset…not just one day of the year.”  Please take a moment to enjoy  and share this message from one of our most inspirational Presidents, Abraham Lincoln:

On Point with PTSD, Part 2

ptsd2

In the past few months, I’ve had the honor to work closely with remarkable Veterans and civilian leaders who fully committed to creating a permanent Veterans Family Center here in Maine.  It was the vision of Staff Sergeant, Travis Mills, one of only five surviving quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, to have a permanent, handicap accessible camp for Veterans and their families to relax, rehabilitate and rejuvenate among fellow Veterans.  This week, Travis retired from his military service and will be moving his family to begin a new life away from the familiarity of 19 months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed, his unit, squadron and fellow veterans.  Like many veterans and their families, change can bring exciting opportunities but it can also trigger stress and anxiety especially for those dealing with PTSD.  

On Point with PTSD

Army.gov photo

As teenagers go, I was a pretty good kid.  I stayed active in sports, was the editor of my yearbook, acted in theater productions, stayed on the honor role, and was always home by curfew.  But, like all good kids, when you fall, you sometimes fall hard.  A day after graduation, I told a little lie in order to attend a dinner and a play in the city.  By midnight, we had crashed the car in the median after the driver feel asleep behind the wheel.  I ended up in the hospital with a severely broken wrist and hand.  Beyond my mother’s wrath, I also suffered terrible flashbacks.  For years, I couldn’t get into a car without tremendous anxiety and the sound of a gravel road would completely freak me out.  It is remarkable how traumatic experiences affect our physical and emotional state and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for our military and veterans.  While I won’t presume any fool-​​proof solutions for the physical and emotional complexities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), there are some helpful healthy choices that are easy to incorporate right now that may help alleviate some factors that aggravate PTSD. 

Band of Brothers

Clay Hunt

For those of you who connect with me regularly, you know my passion for our military and our veterans.  From the bravery, courage, and inspiring leadership of my amazing veteran husband, Mark Gauger LtCol USAF(ret), to the thousands and thousands of everyday people who have risen up to serve our nation so valiantly, I remain in awe of your service and sacrifice.  Recently, working here in Maine with the Travis Mills Project and the expansion of the National Veterans Family Center, I have become acutely aware of the unspoken needs of our Armed Forces.  No where is that need more evident than in the tragic death of Marine veteran, Clay Hunt, in 2011.   This article is a spotlight on a team who has taken up Clay’s torch to inspire leadership and provide mentorship for our veterans. 

Count Yourself Lucky

Dr. Alfredo Galvez

Have you ever had moments in your life when you’ve met someone and you knew that the meeting was more than just coincidental — like fate or faith had something to do with it?  Recently, while on a wonderful anniversary trip to New Mexico, Mark and I met a terrific couple whose anniversary is the same date as ours.  In just a few short days, we became fast friends and look forward to seeing them again soon.  Was it just a  coincidence.…or was it something else?  There is a saying that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  When you keep yourself open to possibilities, it is remarkable how many pivotal people will enter your life at just the right time.  Recently, one of those pivotal people in our lives has been Dr. Alfredo Galvez.  I thought you might appreciate spending some time with this genetic genius as he answers important questions about your health. 

Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Happy couple embracing and laughing

Laughter and fun have always been a theme in my family.  After dinner, we often got a case of the giggles and wacky improvisation ensued.  From our trademarked moves as the Zucchini Brothers to my youngest brother’s Elvis impersonations, evenings ended with us all in stitches.  Last night I found myself in an extra silly mood and  spent the better part of the evening laughing to Youtube clips of comedic geniuses like Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams and Steve Martin (three of my favorites).  Isn’t it amazing how great you feel after a good chuckle?  There’s actually more to it than a well-​​delivered line.  Laughter can help you feel better, live longer, and what a way to go!

Pure Imagination

Wonka

I am a sucker for old movies and, speaking of suckers, one of my favorites is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — the original with Gene Wilder.  I watched it this weekend and rather than focusing on the river of chocolate (yum!), I paid close attention to the even sweeter message this campy little movie conveyed.  You see, the lead character, Charlie, had a vision to win a golden ticket.  He held onto that vision and ended up getting everything he had ever imagined.  Walking through his wacky chocolate factory where anything and everything seemed to be possible, Mr. Wonka invited Charlie, and us all, to “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.”  It made me realize that we have the same imagination within all of us and that paradise may be right in front of us after all.  

Veteran Strong…2.0

soldier

Update: Have you ever had a moment in your life when someone or something changed you forever?  Yesterday, I had that moment.  In a rustic dining hall packed with veterans, lobster, laughter and an whole lot of camaraderie, I met Travis Mills.  His jovial spirit and engaging smile don’t serve to mask the tragedy he’s been through…those traits are who he is and who he has always been.  Travis has a divine spark within him which manifests as a burning desire to support, encourage and lift others up especially during difficult times.  This is his story of help and hope for fellow veterans and their families. 

Say What? Word Power

Words

Have you ever learned another language?  My parents made us take a foreign language course in school likely because their parents made them.  My dad grew up in an Italian family with relatives who did not speak English so he was exposed to another language and culture his entire life.  He was still required, however, to take Latin — uhg!  My mom took French in high school and does a great job speaking it today when they travel.  My brother took German has maintained his ability to speak fluently.  I took Spanish in school and am now teaching myself Italian.  It all reminds me of my favorite comedian, Steve Martin, who quipped, “It’s like they have a different word for everything!”  While you may not be inspired to learn another language, you may be surprised to find out just how powerful your own words can be when it comes to your health, fitness, motivation and success.  

Rock & Roll Summer

PBband

In high school, my brother and his buddies started a band.  Not only were they a crazy-​​talented bunch, they also had an uncanny ability to throw a concert together on a moment’s notice and fill the room with 300 or more avid fans.  Last summer, they got the band back together for a one-​​night-​​only concert on the lake.  It was a blast and we’re looking forward to an encore this year.  It proved to me that you can go back and relive experiences from your past.  With summer in full stride, maybe it’s time to shake up your fitness routine, rekindle some passions of your own and maybe even cultivate a few new ones.

A Salute to Support

Salute

Each year, it is estimated that the military discharges nearly 300,000 Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard members.  For those of us who have been in the military or are members of military families, the transition to the civilian word can be challenging.   My husband, Mark, worked tirelessly to develop an initiative here in Maine called the High Tech Patriot Program (HTPP) helping guardsmen and women attain high tech jobs.  It was a win-​​win for the employer and the military member.  Here are some of my other favorite organizations that may provide support to you and your family.