Sunday, April 29, 2018

Journey into Nutrition: the why

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

For a long time, I felt that my journey was indeed a forward moving path with the lessons learned and embraced behind me and the yet-to-be-discovered moments before me.  What I didn’t realize in my younger days, was that the real journey comes down to being a path from within.  A path that could be labeled as strength, compassion, and determination. 

My story began in high school 30 years ago with the choices between a medical career or music performance career at the fork in the road. My heart led the way with pursuing degrees in piano —working diligently, furtively and tirelessly on performing literature to beyond expectations. My ability to succeed and develop a reputation for excellence was my utmost goal. For many years I followed this path -this journey of both heart and fingers, however, in the meantime, I often came back to that fork in the road choice made all those years ago. There was no regret from the choice I made: there was much gained from years of being a music educator and professional musician.  But, as time gave way to reflection, I became ready to revisit my choices and prepared to make what was once a pipe dream into reality.  Beginning a new career and returning to college at the age of 47 has been nothing short of scary.  Thankfully, I am reminded by Emerson that I can indeed accomplish my goals because of that which lies within me. 

Strength is the inward quality that prepares me for the uphill climb I set before myself on this journey to practicing nutrition as a member of the functional medicine community.  I used to spend hours upon hours perfecting a passage of music to make sure I knew it without any mistake.  Now, the medical textbook is my music; I feel an obligation to myself, instructors and future colleagues to be as knowledgeable as possible.  Returning to school at this point in my life: mom, wife, chauffeur, cook, housekeeper, organizer, volunteer, employee…requires an inordinate amount of strength.  I am surrounded by an incredible support network and as my now deceased father would say, “you can do this!” 

Another step in this journey is that of compassion.  My mother instilled the sense of compassion in me: as a registered nurse, she knew the meaning of care.  Through her actions, I learned the importance of caring and as the years have gone by, I’ve become more concerned about the health of the people around me.  It is perhaps for this reason I am most passionate about nutrition.  I watched my father succumb to the effects of type 2 diabetes:  he died of congestive heart failure with far too many years yet to enjoy. It’s been nearly 16 years now since my mother died of renal cancer. My sister lives in a care facility due to the devastating effects of progressive degenerative multiple sclerosis.  My own 18-year-old son is faced with the challenges of Crohn’s disease.  The thoughts that constantly run through my mind make me wonder what if nutritional changes could have made a difference in their lives?  Again, the path behind and the path forward converge in the compassion of my heart.  I can’t change what happened to my parents, sister or son.  I can make a difference, however, in the people around me as I move forward.  Herein lies my desire to practice functional medicine.  Educating others about the nutritional choices they can make to find health and wholeness in their lives is my newfound passion.

That passion is really my determination.  My purpose is to learn, share and discover how good nutrition can change us for the better.  There are many obstacles that stand in my path, but using my inner determination as my guide, the journey will be navigated in its intended way.  When I think of how hard the biochemistry test was, or how exhausted I was to write a paper a midnight, only to be up all night with a sick child, or how there aren’t enough hours in the day or dollars in the bank, I am brought back to my determination label.  

Strength, compassion, and determination are only a small portion of what lies within me: as I march along the physical path, I know my inward discoveries will become even more profound and wonderful. Sharing my passion about health and nutrition, being determined to find nutritional outcomes for those who need wellness and healing, and growing stronger both personally and professionally are reasons why practicing nutrition in the functional medicine community are so important to me.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Canterbury Cathedral at Christmas 2013

Christmas in Canterbury

Since this particular Christmas, 2013, would be hard without Papa around anymore, I thought it fitting to go somewhere with an amazing church and even more, amazing music.  Little did I know, standing room only tickets were sold out months in advance for the candlelight services on Christmas Eve!  We were able to attend the 11:00am Children's Crib service and participated in a beautiful service which seemed to be filled with local parishioners more so than tourists. 

the music!
all of our voices filled the sanctuary like light in a room
children's message with everyone crowded around the manger was heartwarming
Singing Away in a Manger was tearful for me--that was my dad's song as he passed into heaven
a perfect stranger -parishioner- put her arm around me -an unspoken understanding-
the comfort of a fellow believer
it was wonderful to worship in a foreign country and understand the language
awesome to worship in a place where people have witnessed their faith for over 1400 years

Cathedral History:
Established in 597 by St. Augustine who was sent to Kent, England by the Pope to convert the Angle slaves. It saw several additions and reconstructions due to various wars, needs (Saxons, Normans, Benedictine monks, eventually mother-church of the Anglican faith), abuses and effects of time on such an old building (Romanesque and Gothic).  Puritan uprisings in the 17th century destroyed much of the medieval stained glass; horses were once housed in the nave; it even witnessed a murder within its walls --1170 Thomas Beckett, subject of Chaucer's Tales!  You can read more about the history here.
It was difficult to get many pictures since today was not a tourist-wander around day!  It's an enormous space--

Saturday, January 14, 2017

London Boxing Day 2013

Our trip to London commenced with an interesting drive into the southern part of the city.  Our Twitham Court hostess Sally recommended we park for free on the street in her old neighborhood.  We were a little concerned; however, my car is a bit of a junker anyway, and if anyone really wanted to steal it, they'd be really disappointed to find the steering wheel on the wrong side.  A fast get-away for an auto thief would be a little more complicated!

Marble Arch: originally constructed 1828 as part of Buckingham Palace under the famous balcony; but moved to this famous corner (Oxford St) in 1851 --supposedly only Royals are to pass thru the central arch...until they moved it and now we can all feel like royalty!
Parked, walked, found the bus and the tube station and in about 30 minutes we were in Hyde Park heading towards Marble Arch, our first "tourist" site and landmark to find the hotel.  We stayed at the military club founded by Churchill, Victory Services Club.  It was a nice enough place, very small and certainly not the Hilton, but  the price was unbeatable for the location.

Our first quest:  Toy stores! Hamley's located on Regent Street looked to be an easy 8-10 blocks walk.  Turned out on Boxing Day, people are not at home exchanging boxes, but rather out in London, shopping in massive droves!  The crowds were so bad on Oxford street, we felt like fish swimming upstream!  I wonder if Oxford Street is always that crazy, or if it was just because of the massive amount of tourists in the area that time of year?  Dodged off the main street and found a much easier walk and turned out we didn't miss any of the big department store Christmas windows as they had already papered over them to take down the displays.  Luckily Selfridges was still showing off their Gingerbread window!
Gingerbread village in a window at Selfridges on Oxford Street.  The edible city – which took 400 hours to design, bake and build – spans a total surface area of 10 metres squared and looms 1.8m tall. All in all, it took 353kg of Biscuiteers gingerbread, 1245kgs of icing and royal icing sugars, over 80 litres of golden syrup and 85kg of caster sugar!  The Lost London display features a fantasy scene of sugary delights made up of now demolished London buildings such as Euston Arch, Old London Bridge, Newgate Gaol, City of London Lying-In Hospital; and never-built architecture such as Selfridges Tower, the Glass Tower Bridge and a National Gallery Extension.

We found Hamley's, along with about 5,000 other people and yet still managed to spend several hours looking at everything in the store!  Came home with a few treasures including a zombie game, a set of magic playing cards and a few other tricks!

Later that evening, found a not very busy pub for dinner and with our countryside success, had such great expectations for this place, but were greatly disappointed.  Stomachs full, headed back thru the still busy Oxford Street mass of pedestrians to the hotel.

Day 2 Quest:  See some historical sights in London & find a game store.  We started the day waiting outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard.  Rain looked to be a possible problem, but when the band marched by, we thought we were in luck until the guard changed the sign to "Cancelled due to Rain" and the band turned around.   The closest I could get to the Queen was the Lego statue at Hamley's!

From there a short walk to see Westminster Abbey, although no one wanted to go inside.  Next door was Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.  A view of the Eye in the distance, Tower of London near and finally Tower Bridge where we went inside to the bird's eye view of London!  The Tower was interesting--especially since Alex has built the lego set; and it offered great views--especially as the sun came out!

The Tower of London: which we viewed from the bridge as the line to go inside was DisneyWorld long.  It's one of the world’s most famous fortresses: constructed by William the Conqueror in 1066 after his Norman victory; from 1200-1850s housed many exotic wild animals; a famous prison and the site of famous executions, including that of Anne Boleyn; was most significantly an armoury and even housed prisoners of WWII. It also contains fortified vaults housing the priceless crown jewels and is guarded by historic uniformed Beefeaters.  

Tower Bridge is a suspension and draw bridge crossing the River Thames built in 1886–1894. The Towers reach 213feet into the sky and are connected by a glass pedestrian walkway.
The London Eye as viewed from the Tower Bridge-we thought about taking a ride on the Eye, but it was quite expensive, and after having been at the top of the city in the Tower, didn't feel like a priority.

After a bit of history, we had more important things to discover, including taking the tube to Leicester Square, where we found a game shop.   Coup and Love Letters --fun card games to fill our cold, dark weekends with things to do not involving screens!
Phone anyone?
At this moment, I realized I had left all the passports in our car, on a random street, in a southern  London suburb!  Worried that the car really wouldn't be there, plus knowing I would need the passports for our return trip home on the train, I took the bus back to the car to retrieve them.  Missing my stop the first time, as there were 2 stops with the same name --the difference being "Place" or something like that.  Finally found the car, in the dark and grabbed the passports.  I found the boys back at the hotel, engrossed in a competitive Zombie game in the lounge area. The next morning Mike and the big boys started their drive home meanwhile Zach and I stayed in the city for one more adventure before taking the train back to Germany.  It was such a wonderful Christmas week together and definitely whet our appetite for London!

Zach & Mom & London in 24 hours (2013)

Zach & I had an opportunity to stay in London for one more day and I'm pretty certain we walked the city and then some!  We started with a quick trip over to Leister Square to see what West End musical we could see for half price --lucky for Zach, Billy Elliot was a choice and a good one for him! After that show, he was more convinced than ever that dancing ballet as a boy is nothing less than athletic.

Another adventure led us across town to find a restaurant that specialized in gourmet hotdogs served with champagne.  Bubbledogs....homemade buns, fresh from the butcher hotdogs, and loaded with toppings!
One place on my bucket list:  St. Paul's Cathedral, well known in history for many grand events, but to me, known as the site for Prince Charles & Princess Diana's wedding!  The original church was built in the year 604.  The current structure was assembled (1675) as part of the city rebuilding project following the Great Fire of London.  The massive dome, one of the highest in the world, was ringed by a walkway allowing people look down into the sanctuary.  God's view.  Nothing less than spectacular!  Climbing more stairs, we were able to walk out onto the rooftop of the dome and view the transept of the building plus the city skyline.  We were so lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day!
In 1940, a time-delayed bomb was difused and when disposed in a secure location, the bomb left a 100ft crater --if it had not been difused, this bomb would have decimated the entire structure! 

All throughout the day we ran into several modes of transportation....and our EuroStar train back to Germany had us there in only a couple hours --over 300kph thru the Belgian countryside and so fast our ears were popping!
the Lamborghini just parked on the street made Zach excited--and it was blue, his favorite color!  All he needs is a driver's license and about $200,000.  The camel transport, as I recall, was one of the wonderful things you could purchase at Hamley's if you had about $1950.  The M&M car was cool but wouldn't get one very far...maybe we'll just take the train.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is an annual festival with games, ice skating, carnival rides and tons of street food.  We were here early in the morning as the carnival workers were waking up before massive amounts of people arrived....Flippin' penguins didn't really work out for any big prizes, but it was fun trying!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Zach goes Viking

Vikings in Germany?  We were surprised, too until we looked at the maps and discovered Haithabu in the northern finger of German just a few miles from the Danish border.  We loved taking the train all the way to Hamburg (sadly, there was no time to stop for a burger!) and one more train to Schleswig where we spent the night at a fantastic wellness hotel (Hotel Waldschlösschen) before our exploring day.  We spent a long time in December learning about the Vikings, so this was a great way to finish up!

The Wikinger Museum is a series of buildings overlooking a beautiful lake which eventually connects to the Baltic Sea.  Skillfully arranged with artifacts and interactive displays, the museum is well marked to correspond to the English reading guide.  
Upon entering, large maps reminded us where the Frankish kingdom (Charlemagne 742-814 CE) battled the Slavs, Frisians and Danes (Vikings) over hundreds of years for control of this major passageway.
One of the many interesting artifact displays
gold and silver jewelry dating to Carolingians (Charlemagne's time @800 CE)
Haithabu was the largest trading post in northern Europe at the time of the Vikings:  it's unique position made it "simple" (all things considered) to move goods from the Baltic to the North Sea by navigating little rivers and then ox-cart transporting the goods from one ship overland to the waiting ship on the other side.  Evidence of trade (coins, jewelry, weapons, dishes, games (Hnefetafl), iron, furs) from the far reaches of the earth -- Byzantine, Baghdad, China, Russia and Spanish Moors--was discovered by archeologists researching in this area.   The remnants of a viking ship (and a reconstructed model) were displayed in a room looking out over the water and surrounded by videos showing re-enacted scenes from medieval times.
What's left of a Viking ship....

Some aspects of the museum, while not interactive, were certainly interesting to view and learn from.  How does one display small pieces of a culture which existed 1000 years ago and make it engaging?  The curators of this treasure have certainly preserved it well.  
Game treasure chest-original artifact!
All around one room were maps and names of famous cities from the 1000s around the world that came into contact with the people of Haitheby.
Just offshore, archeologists found piles of animal bones in the water:  apparently a medieval trash dump full of clues into the daily lives of these people.

A beautiful walk thru the countryside and down closer to the water, we were able to view a reconstructed model of the original Viking village.  Standing on the 1000 year old rampart overlooking the village, we learned how this giant hill likely helped these folks guard their village for many years.

Reconstructed Viking village        
Viking Leif-Zach

The village was closed for the winter, but in spring/summer, it is a beehive of activity for visitors: showcasing life in a typical village and inviting guests to immerse themselves in the culture:  weaving, iron making, bread baking, etc.  A couple of workers on site allowed us to walk thru the village anyway so we could look thru the windows and admire the setting.  We had to hop the fence when we were finished at their suggestion (or walk all the way around the large enclosure.)  Suffice it to say, I really wish I had not succumbed to the peer pressure of a 10 year old who easily hopped the fence...

The Wikinger Museum definitely stands out among museum greats in Europe and if you're traveling north, it is well worth the time spent!

oven inside a home
Rune stone in the village

Wikinger Museum 
Opening hours:
March thru Oktober
open daily from  9:00 to 17:00

November thru  March
Tuesday-Sunday:  10-16:00 (viking houses closed this time of year)
Am Haddebyer Noor 5
24866 Busdorf

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Istanbul 2: Museum Day

We enjoyed visiting a few interesting museums in Istanbul, although we wished they were more interactive!  The Science & Technology Museum was full of models of ancient technological marvels with  brief translations in English about their creators.  Perhaps the most intriguing part of this place was the introductory propaganda video about the contributions of the ancient Muslim scientists to the advancement of the world and their ultimate loss of stature when the Romans took over the world, which is apparently now our fault (as evidenced by the many American references in the video!)
Entrance to the Science & Technology Museum
Alex was most interested in pretty much everything in this museum *Chemistry*...the rest of us...hmmm....
Archimedes Screw!  It was a long, long year in World History for this boy...

Having walked a few miles in the blistering heat, cooled off only slightly in the museum (have I mentioned few places in Europe have AC?  Their contribution to stop global warming I guess) I convinced the boys we needed to head down into the cistern to cool off.  The Basilica Cistern was featured in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love . Originally built by Emperor Justinian in 532 BCE to store water sourced from near the Black Sea via 20km of aqueducts!  It was neglected for many centuries, even forgotten for awhile, rediscovered and then finally cleaned up, restored and opened to the public in 1987. 

Amazing how every time the ancients built columns they add frilly Corinthian tops even underground!  336 marble columns inside this space roughly the size of of 2 football fields!

For some unknown reason, there are 2 medusa heads at the bottoms of 2 columns; one upside down...

A column of eyes --always rub your hands on the eye for good luck.
Turkey is full of "eyes" to ward off any evil!
Last museum was the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, boasting their position as 1 of the top 10 museums in the world, (I may argue that, but the sheer amount of old stuff in there likely supports their claim).  We were I was captivated by the ancient Greek artifacts and many more interesting pieces from ancient Rome as well as Byzantine era items.  Probably most interesting in all of Istanbul was the plethora of columns strewn about the city streets, as if time had not really bothered with the falling down of yesterday, but rather just moved on to tomorrow, caring just enough to preserve pieces of history under the shade trees.

All these columns had us regaling stories of 6th grade ancient world history
and remembering fondly, Mr. Fleck, at Harman Elementary School in Oakwood!  

Cool artifact #1:  Funeral Stele from Persia 5th century BC

Cool artifact #2:  Late Classical (about 450BC) Greek Lion Statue discovered in Bodrum, Turkey
outside a tomb at Halicarnossus

This beauty once held up a Greek temple with her comrades.

Gergiev Concert & a Pancake (Feb 2015)

The evening program we attended

Here we are, 2 musicians, living in the land where western music began and we haven't taken the opportunity to seek out amazing concerts!  And, what's even more sad, it took a humorous facebook post by a couple of trumpet players, to prompt our visit to the Gergiev Festival!  I had no idea who Gergiev was, but after a little research into the festival, the price was right and the weekend was on.  We found seats in the orchestra so that our view was of the conductor's face:  it was awesome to watch all the facial expressions of Maestro Gerghiev and have a bird's eye view of the pianist.

Zach accompanied us while the other boys stayed home to "study" (video games, no doubt!)  We had a blast taking Mike's  BMW to new speeds on her inaugural autobahn road trip.  On the drive, we listened to NPR's "Meet the Composer" and learned about the story of the Wooden Prince --what a great way to help Zach get involved in the musical story.

A hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War the 2014 edition of the festival paints an impressive picture of big industrial, social, cultural and musical developments in times of fierce conflict. 
The recurring theme is a symphonic triptych with iconic works by Ravel, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and their contemporaries. The Festival programme also features chamber music, lectures, a night concert, jazz and theatre. 

Central Station
Rotterdam is an interesting and eclectic city --an architects' dream, I suppose:  a conglomeration of old and new styles as Hitler virtually flattened the city and used Rotterdam as his example of what would happen to Amsterdam if they didn't give in.  Not surprisingly, the St Laurentius Cathedral was heavily damaged by fire during the bombings; only the walls and tower remained.  It was decades before the reconstruction was completed.  The citizens of Rotterdam decided to rebuild with new ideas, hence, much of the architecture is very different:  including the much photographed Central Station.

Just around the corner was an eclectic street market with many interesting stalls: fish, clothing and treasures.  The best find was a Netherlander pancake called "poffertjes" --translated "heart attack in a napkin"!  It was absolutely dripping with butter....

A peek inside the St Laurentius Cathedral (ca.1495) revealed a sanctuary overflowing with an art show!  I guess to keep the bills paid, they rent out the church space to outside venues.  The organ was installed in the 1970's.

A beautiful Calliope parked nearby with it's little musical serenade was another treat to stumble upon, too. 

Just outside the city were miles of pasture land filled with sheep grazing just beyond the busy highways.  A round about trek (as the bridge was out!)  to find a famous pancake place on the water was our last destination before the drive home.  After many detours thru quaint, tiny villages, we found the old windmill --peacefully turning in the breeze and just beyond, the houseboat pancake place.  Not sure they were my favorite food ever (think pancake pizzas), but the view and the experience were worth the time!