Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Sweet Peace #10: Tracking Blood Sugar

Spring is tip-toeing in.

Report: Mojo Cookies success (from #9) -- my first week using these showed some success. Especially breaking the siren call of food with dancing to some fast-beat music. 

Blood Sugar: I’ve been monitoring my blood sugar for about twenty years, prompted by knowing my mother’s diabetes had progressed to the point where she was giving herself insulin injections. The normal range for fasting blood sugar is somewhere in the 80 - 110 range. Mine has tended toward the higher end of that range and occasionally spiked above it. However, my monthly average hovered in the 105 - 110 range.

Since starting Sweet Peace, I started wondering if I could get it down toward the lower levels of the range which meant fine tuning my understanding of what my particular sensitivities are. Some things are obvious … sugar and processed carbs show up clearly; other things seem to be less predictable. I used quinoa in a soup and it didn't seem to have an effect the first day. However, it was a large pot of soup and day 2 and 3 shot up seemingly without reason. I’ve tried some supplements touted as blood sugar reducers but nothing had a noticeable effect.

The past few weeks have been particularly spiky so I started looking for possible answers and found this article, 10 Surprising Causes of Blood Sugar Swings You Probably Didn’t Know” which offered this list:

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Been There Voices - Anita Perez Ferguson - Prequel to the Mission Bells Triology


By Anita Perez Ferguson

Nina's dry hands, cracked as the parched earth, bleed when she scraped her knuckle on a scrubbing stone. The laundry, stained with red blotches, marked her life as it drained away.

Overhead, two black birds swooped and squabbled over crushed acorns. Slick feathers gleamed in the sun, their glamour dulled by the ruckus.

This isolated life in the desert cabin baked away all hope. Even those who flew screeched with discontent.   

If she disintegrated in the sun, no one would miss her. If the birds pecked him apart no one would know.

The Clifton Trader was the only place to buy packaged goods and ready-made clothes within one hundred miles of Tucson, Arizona in 1895. It was a company store for the miners. Manuel Garcia worked for Phelps Dodge Copper as the store clerk. Today, he was anxious to close up but one woman lingered and took her time fumbling with her coins. 

Nina waited until everyone left before pointing out what she wanted. Manuel was disinterested in the affairs of the Indian woman everyone referred to as 'La Chata'. They said she was only 19, but she looked ancient under her crusty skirt and shawl. He rolled her items into a small brown package. 

She replaced her leather coin pouch under her rebozo then left the store without uttering a word, climbed onto her wagon, and pushed the package behind a bag of flour. Her husband's work horse snorted as she let the whip loose on his behind. One beast pushes another, she thought.   


Guilt rode with her. Nervous excitement awaited in the brown package. A slight breeze stirred under her heavy skirts. She felt a sinful pleasure all the way up to her thighs. Another beast dragged her back to reality. She spotted her husband's palomino in the corral beside their adobe cabin where she knew he would be irate having to wait for his dinner.   


When they married one year ago Pablo's papa made a big ceremony of giving the young couple this converted chicken coop for a home. Sweeping the dirt floor stirred up feathers from former residents. Wire grate vents were her only view of the outside world. Two bales of hay leaned against the mud bricks. Nina stashed her package between the bales, gathered her courage and other essentials, then shuffled into the cabin. 


The savory aroma of hot quisado stew filled the cabin. Pablo's work clothes lay discarded in her laundry basket. His expression as glum and still as an Aztec god awaiting an offering. Nina fumbled, dropping a clay bowl in her haste to serve the stew. His scolding glance frightened her. His crisp shirt and pants signaled his evening plans. As her husband ate Nina stood in silence. Her imagination raced with plans to retrieve the package as soon as he was gone.

Tomorrow night, she thought, he will not abandon me. His tavern friends will be shocked to learn what La Chata has done.

At twilight the next evening Nina retrieved the package and opened it with care and reverence. She unfolded a pure white blouse and a red ruffled skirt. Town women wore such clothes, the ladies Pablo visited each night that she lay shivering in their bed. She dabbed her olive face with powder and rouge then tied her heavy braids with colored ribbons. Comparing herself to the feminine image on his old whiskey bottle she prayed to lure him home.  


Tired and hungry, Pablo slunk into the dim cabin. He didn't bother to glance at his wife, a round-shouldered stranger, as she served his meal. He hurried off never noticing the fire pit smoldering with red and white cloth scraps. Later that night Nina tugged their old nag toward the Mission, lit a candle, and prayed for forgiveness. 

The End of the Story: The Beginning of the 

Mission Bells Trilogy.

** Anita Perez Ferguson, PhD, Santa Barbara, CA, young adult historic fiction author
Books; Twisted Cross (2020), Women Seen & Heard (2019)


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Love Letters to My Life #44: Nuggets of Inspiration and Wisdom

"Maggi's Spirit"
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life. -- Joyce Wycoff)

In 1982, I met a woman for lunch and picked her brain about a possible project. I don’t remember her name, but she changed my life.  

While the woman warned me about the hazards of the project I was contemplating, she also gave me an unexpected gift … a quote, words that inflamed me and washed away all her cautious words. That quote was, and continues to be, a universal favorite even though it was attributed to Goethe who probably never said it. The Scottish writer W.H. Murray has been given credit for it although Goethe might have inspired his stirring words:

    "Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. 

     Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

The project came and went, a somewhat success and a definite learning adventure, leaving behind a passion for quotes which launched me into a lifetime of collecting bits of wisdom from people, famous and unknown, living and dead. Now, forty years later, I find myself still digging through my collection, which has grown to several thousands, and frequently scouring the millions of quotes available on the Internet in search of more nuggets of inspiration and wisdom.

This collection of quotes was not done with an end result in mind, however, it finally seems to be coming into its own. My current project is a gratitude-focused, guided-life journal titled Gratitude Mojo. As I enter the final phase of development of this project, what strikes me is how much my decades of quote collection has made this project possible and joyful. While I tend to use a few quotes in all my projects, they are a central feature of this journal. Like Br’er Rabbit, I have been thrown into my briar patch home, spending delightful hours choosing just the right quote to inspire my journalers of the future. 


Maggi Butterfield-Brown

About "Maggi's Spirit": Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet and become friends with Maggi, another woman who changed my life. Maggi was magic and lived in a magical octagon house filled with art and treasures. She allowed me to explore her house with my camera and I wound up making a piece of art that included some personal elements not meant for anyone but her. However, when I took away those elements, I was left with "Maggi's Spirit," a piece which highlights the values she embodied: love, beauty, nature, joy, and spirit.

Maggi danced off to another world about this time six years ago, however, she will long be remembered by so many of us. This is the memorial I wrote after she left:

Yesterday, a spirit left her physical body. I’m sure there were many across the planet who did the same, each leaving holes in their small circles of friends and family. Each leaving a wake of loss and grief.

My focus today, though, is Maggi Butterfield-Brown. It’s hard to capture Maggi in words; pictures of her are so much better. Seeing Maggi meant seeing her laughing, dancing, twirling in any of the outrageously unique and beautiful outfits she put together with an artist’s eye. Maggi’s energy was a vortex that pulled people in and made them feel bigger, better, more creative, and more alive.

Without her, without knowing that I will see that smile again, I feel smaller, somehow deflated. Yet, I know that’s the last thing Maggi would want for her flock. She was a builder-upper, an encourager. She topped off our mugs of love until they overflowed. No one went unloved in Maggi’s presence.

When we talked and Maggi told me her stories, I tried to figure out where all that love and overflowing generosity came from. She didn’t have a safe, loving childhood. She didn’t have a “normal” marriage-and-children life. She was an accountant, for heaven’s sake. 

The only thing I can figure is that she brought it with her. She came swaddled in love and bright colors and her purpose was to share those things with as many people as possible. She did her job with pizazz and such incredible grace. Just watching her laughing dance was enough to make me want to climb new mountains.

I’m sure there are many of us this morning trying to figure out how to go forward without Maggi’s colorful self as part of our physical world. To say she will be missed doesn’t begin to describe our loss. However, with the grief comes an overwhelming gratitude for having been in Maggi’s presence even for a short while.

Perhaps it’s that gratitude that we have to hold onto. Also, for me, I feel a call to step deeper into my own spirit and life and try to pass along some of Maggi’s love and generosity, some of her colorful energy, some piece of that incredible gift that she gave so many of us. 

Thank you, Maggi … I hope you know how many of us love you and how wide your gift of love has spread. Dance on. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Been There Voices - Anita Perez Ferguson - Writer's Prayer

Santa Ysabel Mission, photo Joyce Wycoff

`Writer’s Prayer

by Anita Perez Ferguson

You are the author of all our stories.

Be with me as I step onto this empty page.

Be to me both fire and wonder,

Inspiration and guide.

May I befriend the reader with true welcome.

May these characters reflect the hope, fears,

And the pain we all possess.

May the blessing of relief and acceptance live here.

As a creator, may I be wise, skillful, honest,

And love this story into being.

** Anita Perez Ferguson, PhD, Santa Barbara, CA, young adult historic fiction author
Books; Twisted Cross (2020), Women Seen & Heard (2019)


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Sweet Peace #9: Mojo Cookies: a different kind of energy boost

We wake up to the same coffee. 

Walk around the same kitchen. 

Go to work at the same desk. 

Kiss the same partner. 

Brush the same teeth. 

(Hopefully, before kissing the same partner.)

All day. Every day. We do basically the same things. See basically the same sights. Eat pretty much the same foods. Talk to the usual people. Think thoughts similar to yesterday's.

We get bored … tired of the sameness … feel lethargic and dull … lack luster. Suddenly, we think “I need a cookie.” Two minutes and 250 calories later we feel sugar-fueled and continue on with our day.

The question that hit me after one of those cookie breaks was … is it the sugar or the two minutes? Or, a third choice: was it about two minutes of a state change? 

What is a state change?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Sweet Peace #8: Fear of Success?


This pine, born in rocks,
will never be the biggest pine in the forest,
but it is a pine and it is beautiful.

Twelve years ago, I wrote: 

In The Seeker's Guide, Elizabeth Lesser states, "I recently heard a great writer say that an essential element in the life of a writer is to have been an outsider in childhood, to have been given the 'gift' of not belonging." 

 Gift?  I never thought of it that way.  Lesson, maybe.  But ... gift?  Those long, endless days of my lonely childhood as the incubator, the essential element, of my writer's soul?

Today, reading this snippet from the past gives me hope … I have made progress. I now know my lonely, outsider childhood was indeed a gift. I’ve learned that everything that happens in our lives creates who we are. Therefore, as Brother Steindl-Rast states, “Everything is a gift!”

Since I’m focused on Sweet Peace this morning, I’m determined to discover how my childhood weaves together with the long-running frustration with body and food. The idea of fear of success appears and I begin to tease it apart, looking for clues and possible tools.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Sweet Peace #7: Obsessing over a flat waistband

Some things move at their own speed.

As I begin my 7th week of Sweet Peace … the search for peace with food, I realize I’m not sure what I’m even looking for. What does “peace with food” look like? As I leave the early “maybe a miracle will happen” phase and settle in to the “I’m probably going to have to change something” reality, I find myself whining in a far-from-peaceful cry translated as “why me?”

I think back to my fourth grade ideal: Charlene … pretty, creative, sweet. She wrote the plays we acted out at recess and the waistband of the skirt of her chorus outfit was always flat. Perfectly flat around her small waist while mine was always wrinkled and twisted tight around my middle. Sixty plus years later I’m still obsessing about her waist band, still seeing in my mind the photo … black skirts, white blouses and Charlene, long, lean, perfectly pressed, perfectly perfect. She became the metaphorical vision of what I should be: perfect.