Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yo Yo Yoga! The benefits for the cool crowd over 50

In my last post on fitness I gave a list of reasons for getting up and getting your body moving.  Starting with the last item on that list, I want to do a little more cheer-leading to get you to roll out a mat and do some stretching.

You don’t have to leave your house, you don’t have to go to a class, you can make it very simple but the benefits of yoga-like stretching are worth 30 minutes of your time each day.  I do my yoga in the morning by using the lessons I have recorded on my DVR.  But maybe you would enjoy the social experience and challenge of a class.  Yoga classes are everywhere.  My local athletic club offers yoga classes and a power stretching class.  Let’s face it; most warm-up and stretching exercises are derived from yoga. 


 Less injury – Yoga is low impact. It prevents injury by warming up muscles and joints so you are better prepared for other activities.  The key to yoga is to go at your own pace and not to over reach yourself; to breathe deeply and relax into each movement and pose.  Everyone’s flexibility is different.  You learn to be more in tune with your own body’s needs and abilities.

Better balance – As we age we are more prone to falling accidents because we tend to stop doing things that require balance. We tend to cut back and reduce our efforts.  Yoga poses challenge you to engage in positions that will improve your stability and reduce mishaps.

 Better agility – We have lived busy lives constantly working and taking care of a family.  We have not always consistently maintained the kind of athletic activities that keep our bodies supple.  Yoga will push you to be more youthful in your approach to life.

Strength and stamina – Yoga builds and strengthens muscle using positions in a greater variety than you would normally use while lifting weights.  Thus muscles you might otherwise neglect will be strengthened and when muscles are stronger you have more stamina. 

A clearer, calmer mind – Yoga encourages you to move at your own pace, to breathe deeply, to meditate as you gently move.  I have a busy mind that is always planning, scheming, stressing, wondering, working, working, working.  Yoga is training me to still my mind and just be.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gardening to Save Money---Starting from Scratch

We have always had a garden during our married life, no matter the location.  Even in Fairbanks Alaska (-50 F in winter to 80 during the summer) we had a huge garden with plants that could grow quickly during the non-stop light of summer of Interior Alaska.  We only had 90-120 days to grow our plants from start to harvest.

Now that we are in Idaho enjoying 70 degrees in late March we find ourselves excited about the possibilities for bounteous food production on our three acres.  Yesterday we drove 25 miles to Fruitland Nursery to buy three fruit trees, as well as 25 strawberry plants and 6 raspberry plants.  So our garden has begun to become real.  

We decided to build our grow boxes from pallets we can buy for $2 a piece, since grow box wood can be quite costly.  Copy and paste the following link into your browser for "How-to" instructions for pallet grow boxes     Video of the whole process on our property will follow soon.  
Happy gardening. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to change your Podcast to an MP3 File

This is a follow-up to my March 18, 2013 Post.

By now some of you may have tried podcasting through the suggested sites “Audacity” and “Libsyn” (see my post from March 18, 2013.  Here are the questions I get the most when someone is starting into the podcasting world:

1)      What do I podcast about?

2)      How do I turn the saved podcast file into an Mp3 file so I can post it on Libsyn? 

To discover what you may wish to talk about in a regular podcast, simply ask yourself what you are the most passionate about.  What are you good at?  What are your hobbies?  How can I help people learn more about my passion in life?  Go to Amazon’s website and search for popular books on your selected subject and then review their table of contents and write down ideas about what you can write on that subject.  Make an outline of the topic you wish to talk about on your next podcast.  At first keep your keep your podcasts between 7-12 minutes long.     

Turning your saved podcast on Audacity into an Mp3 file isn’t too difficult but you may wish to jot down a few notes and post it somewhere conspicuous so you can be reminded when you are doing it again until it becomes second nature.  Here are the steps:

a)      I always save my podcasts on my computer as an audacity file until I have completed the editing processes then I turn it into an MP3 file as follows

b)      Click Export file

c)      Click “Save as Type”

d)      Click MP3

e)      Click Save

f)       Fill out as much of the “Edit Metadata” info as you wish

g)      Click Save

h)      Download LameMp3 encoder to your computer (follow the instructions carefully so you don’t download unwanted stuff)
If you didn’t already have the LameMp3 encoder you will need to go back and follow the previous steps again….once you have the encoder you will not need to go through these steps twice next time your change your audacity file to an Mp3. 

Please let me know if you have questions.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bodies in Motion---by Jean Snow VanOrden

Ultimately, I think it is quality of life we crave, not quantity.  Unfortunately, we get sidetracked by the stresses of life into neglecting the one thing that is most likely to give us a higher quality of life: movement.   We have got to keep our bodies moving.  Find a physical activity you love to do and do it regularly. 

MOVEMENT FOR JOY:  When I was eleven my parents sat me down and asked me, “Which would you rather do, take piano lessons or take dance lessons.”

This is not such a simple question.  My older sisters are both skilled pianists.  I idolized my sisters. They were the coolest.  They performed in plays and in singing groups with their friends and were often called upon to accompany on the piano.   I wanted to be like them. 

However, as fate would have it, a lovely, statuesque blonde woman showed up at our door with a flyer advertising dance lessons at her home.  As a child I was a bouncing ball of energy which drove my Mom crazy as I was constantly asking, “What can I do!”   I think my parents were relieved when I chose dance.  It suited me better than hours spent sitting at the piano practicing.  And thus dance entered my life and gave form and joy to all that undisciplined energy.  I spent my teen and college years dancing in recitals, church programs, school dance concerts, and musicals.  It seemed I was always in motion.  I am grateful for this early foundation in keeping my body moving. It has paid big dividends throughout my life.  But it is never too late to pick-up the habit especially if you find something you love to do.

MOVEMENT FOR SANITY:  When I was thirty-five I encountered a new world of bodies in motion.  We were living in North Pole, Alaska and had just welcomed our fifth child. We were often house-bound by the cold and dark, so we joined the Alaska Club in Fairbanks to break out of our cabin fever.  I went to a dance fitness class and after a few weeks gathered the courage to step into the weight room.   It is pretty common today to find women in weight rooms at fitness clubs all over the country,  but back then I saw very few.  It was tremendously intimidating.  After my first session with the trainer, I was hooked.  My muscles craved that burn and there was something meditative and calming about the sets and reps.  After six months of working out I realized that I was stronger, had more energy, had definition in my arms and abs I’d never had before, and more sanity.   At thirty-five most of us wonder how we can hang on to our youth a little longer: weight-training, even just a little bit, pays off with long term health benefits.  Always consult a physician and a trainer to avoid injury.  Life has interrupted the routine but I have come back to weight lifting again and again, starting off slowly with light weights and building up gradually.  I feel stronger, I feel younger, and I look better when I am including weights in my fitness routine.  My younger sister walks holding weights and at 58 she has great looking, sculpted arms.

MOVEMENT FOR FUN:  Golf, it isn’t dancing but it is a lot of fun. Golf exercises mind and body.  It is challenging and refreshing and tantalizing.  It is never too late to start playing golf.    In 1994, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  A short time before that my husband began to teach me how to golf.  I was beginning to catch on but the arthritis derailed that effort for more than a decade. In those ten years I was able, with the aid of a series of new treatments, to calm the arthritis.  In 2007,   I was underwent chemo therapy and radiation treatment for cancer.  When I finished treatment my body was back to square one in the fitness department and I needed a happy challenge.  I needed something fun to do.  I started golfing again.  Ralph and I began to golf together on a regular basis during the summer in Alaska.  We were living in Eagle River and would go to the Palmer Golf Course or Moose Run Creek Course.   I never considered myself athletically competent.  But to my surprise I have discovered that I have the potential to be a good golfer.  That tantalizing goal sparks my interest every time I golf.  I am always learning something new or acquiring a new skill.  The best part of golfing is being out in the sunshine, getting fresh air, and moving my body for the fun of it.  Find movement for the fun of it.  If you get bored try something new.  But keep moving.

MOVEMENT FOR SURVIVAL:    No matter how fit we try to be, age and gravity and genetic tendencies will afflict us with aches and pains and injuries that will threaten our mobility as we reach retirement age.  Just when we are feeling free to do things we’ve only dreamt of, our bodies will sabotage our efforts if we don’t pay attention.   The solution is a good physical work up by a doctor, the proper treatment, and the proper movement.  Often our instinct is to do less and curtail our physical activity which will only reduce our enjoyment of life and spell disaster for our hopes and dreams in retirement. 

Keeping our bodies limber is another fountain of youth.  Taking the time for stretching is a challenge.   Most of us just want to get on with participating in the main event:   the tennis game, the golf game, the running, the hiking.    These are the activities that invite injury if we aren’t prepared.
I have been very lucky to be free of injury most of my life.   But recently, my lower back has been giving me problems that were persistent.  A dose of Advil wasn’t enough to relieve the sore spot.  Twinges of pain would grab and my hip would give out suddenly mid-step.   I saw my doctor who ordered a back x-ray and the conclusion is that I have the normal amount of wear and tear in my lower spine for a person my age; nothing that needs a drastic fix.  She suggested taking a prescription pain killer for a short time to see if that would disrupt the tension and pain cycle and to come back to see her if it didn’t improve.

I did that but at the same time I finally resolved to do what I had meant to make a habit for years:  yoga. I don’t go to class.  I just do it in my home using a series of recordings on my DVR.  It is peaceful, relaxing, meditative, and healing for both mind and body.  Yoga may not be an attractive option for everybody but I can say without a doubt that gentle yoga-like stretching of some kind daily or as often as possible will benefit anyone.  The advantage of yoga is that it is systematic and incorporates stretching muscles and places on your body you never even felt before.    No muscle or tendon will be neglected if you do yoga stretches.  In yoga the student is encouraged to go at their own pace and participate at their own comfort level.    Yoga solved my back problem.  I learned quickly, that I am at the stage of my life that regular stretching is no longer an option if I want to stay fully mobile and active.  Remember with any exercise to check with your doctor. 

Encourage yourself and encourage others to start moving and keep moving.  Find something you love to do and participate by yourself or with others.   For joy, for sanity, for fun, for survival, any effort small or great to keep your body moving will pay big dividends in health, peace, and enjoyment today and for the rest of your life. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to PODCAST Made "Easy"

create my podcasts with "audacity" software downloadable for free at  I purchased a better microphone for my computer from Logitech, but the built-in microphone on most computers should work. 

You will need to experiment with audacity to learn how to record and edit but it really isn’t too terribly difficult, even though it looks a bit intimidating.  Once the audio file is complete and edited in audacity, turn it into an mp3.   

Now it’s time to publish your podcast at Libsyn is a subscription site but not too expensive for us small time podcasters.  

Here are the steps to follow once you are at
1)      Login with your email address and password. 

2)      Click on PUBLISH at the top of the screen.  The icon looks like the lower case letter i or a man without arms.

3)      Type in a title and a description of your podcast. 

4)      Click on HARDDRIVE.  The icon looks like a harddrive or disk player.

5)      Find the mp3 file on your computer and click it into the “File name:” box.

6)      Click “OPEN”.  Your file name will appear under “Master File” on the Libsyn screen below where you clicked HARDDRIVE previously.

7)      Scroll down and click “PUBLISH” in the green box.   

8)      You will see the progress of the upload at the top of the Libsyn screen with percentages till you hit 100%. 

9)      The URL you will need to use so your audience can link to your new podcast will appear under “Direct Download URLs”. 

10)   Copy the URL and paste it in Facebook, Twitter, Blog, emails or wherever you are accessing your audience.

11)   You are now a podcaster. 

12)   If you need help check the tutorials or let me know and I will answer your questions.   

Send me a link so I can listen to your first podcast.  

To get more tips on how to monetize your new found celebrity in the blogoshpere/podcast world sign up for my secure email group to the left of this post.   

 Happy Podcasting...