“F” is for…

17 Jan

F is for FUN!


…of the Norwegian variety. I have already been to Norway and stood in Bergen at the gateway of the Fjords. I watched my friends board the ship for a four-hour cruise of these stunning waterways. I was held back only by the desperate need to visit a doctor and relieve myself of the hives that had taken over my beautiful porcelain complexion. I’ve mentioned this story before, but it only strengthens my need to go back and sail through the Fjords for myself; see it all with my own eyes.

Flash Mob

I have yet to meet a mentally stable human being who has not laughed or at least smiled while watching a YouTube video of a flash mob. Of course some are better than others, but c’mon! How could you possibly hate on a group of people who have taken the time to learn a choreographed dance, show up at a specified location and bust out the moves in front of unsuspecting strangers? There is nothing but happiness there.

I always admire the daring and bravery of the first person to start dancing. That would take some serious will power to not just flake out and walk away. Imagine you’re the only person dancing for a good ten seconds… longest ten seconds of life! I imagine within that time span you would feel many an emotion; fear that no one else showed up and you’ll be dancing all alone for the rest of the song; pride in the fact that you were able to force your muscles to move instead of freezing up on the spot; relief once a second person starts dancing.

The best part of a flash mob might actually be when the dancing is over and everyone just picks up and goes about their business like they hadn’t just participated in a public dance session, possibly while wearing  shiny gold Hammer pants.

Establishing Goals: Guest Post by Melanie Bowen

6 Jan

Just before Christmas I received a very nice comment on my Bucket List post from a lovely person named Melanie Bowen. Melanie is a part-time contributor to The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog and an absolutely wonderful writer. She asked me to email her directly and of course I obliged. Her response was one of the most surprising and flattering emails I’ve ever received.

“Hi Helen,
I asked that you contact me after coming across and reading the great content on your blog— to log and catalog desires, wishes, and things you plan to accomplish is by far the most important aspect to actually undertaking goals! Most people do not put their thoughts on paper—consequently leaving them without tangible reminders and constant ambition. I’m sure you can imagine how important this idea could be for those going through health struggles regardless of what they may be. An individual going through treatment, in remission, and even the family members of those with chronic or terminal illnesses face everyday challenges of maintaining a quality of life—self-motivation and inspiration is the key!”

I was thrilled to hear that someone outside my circle of friends and family had found my blog to be something special. How interesting that Melanie was able to see that quality in my Bucket List writing – this is something I had never considered before, although now I realise how important it is to keep track of our dreams. I was happy to fulfill her request for a guest post on my blog, so please take a moment now to read and understand Melanie’s message.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Power of Personal Goals in Treatment of Chronic Illness

 Though the experts in charge of establishing your treatment program may neglect it, everyone is aware on some level that improving quality of life is an important goal in the struggle against chronic disease. Improved quality of life is linked to relief of symptoms associated with both diseases and treatments. Studies have shown time and again that two of the most important changes for patients to make are establishing a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet. Addressing individual fitness is widely acknowledged to relieve many common symptoms of chronic disease, such as fatigue and emotional disorders, and improve the quality of life.

Though the recommendations have been out there for some time now, patients still struggle with implementation. Even when nutritionists and physical therapists are included in treatment programs, it is difficult to change established habits no matter how detrimental. One powerful method is to establish personal goals and share those goals with others in a lasting way. A verbal commitment can be effective, but writing tends to work for more people. A written set of goals kept in a visible location, like a blog that can be visited by friends and family, is a constant reminder of what you want and why you want it.

Establishing Goals for the Short and Long Term

Successes in the short term are necessary to maintain motivation for the long term. Since chronic diseases differ in prognosis and all patients are different, there is no one formula for choosing appropriate goals. It is only important that the first goals have a high possibility of success while still requiring work to get there. From mesothelioma to diabetes patients, this could mean establishing the goal of learning more on ways you can outside of treatment have a lasting effect on your path to wellness or healing. A specialist can help by designing a program to help you meet the goal or you yourself can motivate yourself! Read other people’s stories and share your own. Write down your thoughts, wants and desires and motivate yourself but maintaining that idea that earlier goals should progress to the more difficult ones.

Others, such as those battling breast cancer or heart disease, may be in the position to plan further out. If you’ve always wanted to climb Machu Picchu, definitely put it on the list! Its good to get your thoughts out on paper—the little things pave room for bigger things. Be sure to create short-term goals that will take you closer. Big dreams give us all something to live for, and you can use this power to live a fuller, longer life.

– Melanie Bowen

“I” is for…

3 Jan


I love to read, but I do not like travel books. For me to sit down and read a full book about another person’s travels… I can’t do it. As someone who considers herself somewhat of a travel writer, I do realise this is quite the hypocritical statement. I have tried to finish books about hiking through Ireland or a girls trip to India… no can do. Even though India is at the very top of my travel list (which is fairly interchangeable with my Bucket List), I cannot for the life of me read anyone else’s stories about travelling to India. Perhaps I should find a blog on the subject; short stories might be the way to go.

Films on the other hand? No problem! After seeing “Slumdog Millionaire”, I wanted to travel to India even more. I know what you’re thinking, “Slumdog? Really? How does that movie make you want to go to India?”. My answer would be, “I have no idea.”
To be honest, I don’t know a lot about India. What I do know is that all five of my senses will experience things I never could have imagined; brighter colours, tastier food, stronger smells, softer silks and musical melodies I never knew existed. Of course, the people must be included as well – what is travel without the people?

"I" Is for...

Ice Hotel

When I was just a young girl, my Girl Guide unit embarked on a winter camping trip. We were given the option to either sleep indoors, in our sleeping bags on the floor or we could help dig out a sleeping area outside… in the snow. Naturally I was gung-ho to sleep outside; I grabbed a shovel and helped dig out a trench, lined it with a tarp and set up my sleeping bag along with three other girls. Then I chickened out. At the last-minute I decided to haul my stuff inside and cozy up with the indoor heating. I was and still am happy with that decision – I always seem to be cold, so it probably would not have been a good idea to sleep in the snow. Now, an ice hotel… that’s a different story!

In regards to location, the Hotel du Glace in Quebec would the closest and easiest ice hotel for me to get to in order to check this item off my Bucket List. But you know, as much as I love my dear Canada, travelling within your own country is never as exciting as going outside your own borders. The ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden looks lovely. Only thing stopping me is that I’ve already been to Sweden, not that I wouldn’t love to go back (such a beautiful country), but I prefer to explore new territory before heading back to the reliable places I’ve already experienced. Just to be clear, if the opportunity arises for me to stay in the Quebec or Sweden Ice Hotels, I will certainly be able to say I completed this item on my list, but for the sake of being specific I would ultimately choose the Kemi Snowcastle in Finland.


There are many reasons to travel, but doesn’t it always seem that a particular place can become more interesting to us if we have a friend who lives there? That’s the case with me. My interest in Ireland has grown significantly since I started talking with an old friend (who happens to live in Ireland). Of course, you don’t want to put anyone out; just because you happen to be on vacation doesn’t mean the person you’re visiting can put their life in hold. I imagine my ideal trip to Ireland would include bed and breakfasts, a car rental (or a rail pass if I’m not brave enough to drive on the other side of the read) and one afternoon enjoying a Guinness with my dear Irish friend. Oh, and spend at least one night in a castle like Ashford or Dromoland. I imagine going for a midnight walk through the wide dark hallways… just to freak myself out a little bit.

Sources: Ice Hotel information http://www.getintravel.com/world-ice-hotels/