Perspective

Perspective…..sometimes perspective is hard to come by…and sometimes, through a series of events, perspective is ‘given’ to us….

Yesterday, on Facebook, my friend @Jeanette Lopriore Fox, wrote a post about paying it forward, in honor and memory of her nephew, Maddox, who passed away late last year, at only 8 years old. April 10th would have been his 9th birthday, so in his honor, she is going to ‘pay it forward’ and show 9 simple acts of kindness – that beautiful child, and his parents, gave the very loving gift of donating his organs, to help save the lives of so many other people. Perspective.

I don’t usually watch the morning news – too busy getting ready for work and the day ahead. But, this morning, I turned on the news, and a little bit more perspective came my way – Ralph LoPriore, Maddox’s father, shared with tears in his eyes, the gift that his son was able to give to a host of other people in need of organs. Their family’s great loss, was turned into a great gift to so many. Perspective.

I have not invented the cure for Alzheimer’s, have not donated millions to charity, and I have not donated a life saving organ. That said, we all have the ability to do great things – sometimes those great things are large, and more often, they are small gestures that add up. So, whatever your perspective, take a moment, and think about what you CAN do, however small, to make a difference….hold a door for the person behind you, say something nice to a co-worker, buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, donate a $1 to a charity, volunteer your time for a day or an hour, walk a shelter dog, be kind to your family, forgive a debt, and the list goes on. Whatever you do, do it with love and a full heart. Imagine what a beautiful world this would be if each and every one of us, did small acts of kindness and kept the perspective that great change comes from small steps….and for those like the LoPriore family, whose selfless act truly changed lives, I send love, prayers for healing, and great respect…

 

 

The Heavy Load

This past weekend, I took a trip to REI to get fitted for a new backpack, all in preparation for my Temple Project journey in Sicily. Since I wanted a special color, I had to get it shipped, and I was very excited when this new bag showed up in the mail today!

I tried on so many different bags, each with their own unique bells and whistles and weights. I decided on this particular bag because it was a nice combination of features, while at the same time, not being too heavy. For me, someone relatively new to distance hiking, I know that carrying a heavy load will be hard, so I wanted to be sure to have the lightest pack possible.

And, almost as quickly as I had that thought, it also struck me that the heaviness of the bag offered a great symbolic gesture for the very reason that I am doing this hike in the first place. I know first hand, the heavy load that is carried by caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s. I also know the heaviness that is felt, as it was told to me by my father, of the heaviness of living with Alzheimer’s. So my desire to lighten my load on this trip, is precisely why I will walk on this journey – I am doing whatever I can to raise my voice, to raise awareness, and to raise funding for a cure…so that the incredible load of Alzheimer’s can be lightened, for all those who are suffering.


A Story of Hope and Love

This is a story about love…..hope….and the power of never giving up.

Peggy and Roger met as undergraduates at Penn State University in 1962. Roger was pursuing his degree in finance while he was in the Marine Corps, and Peggy was getting her degree in Liberal Arts. Peggy was a very funny, laid back young woman, and Roger, because of his Marine Corps training, was a little more structured. It was love at first sight, but they both decided to have a little time apart as they finished their respective degrees. After graduation, Roger accepted a position at Salomon Brothers, and Peggy moved to Naples, Italy. They kept in touch via letters, and both knew that the spark had never died.

In 1967, while vacationing in Austria, Roger decided to visit Peggy in Naples. That weekend was the beginning of their life together – they got engaged, married, had two beautiful children and life was good. Roger had his own successful bond market research business, which Peggy helped him run. Their children were doing well, they enjoyed wonderful skiing and beach vacations as a family, and they were happily married.

But, in 2004 Roger noticed some changes in Peggy’s memory, and at the age of 61, Peggy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. That, however, is not where the love story ends….in fact, it is in this incredible challenge, that this love story blossoms. Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s is no easy task, and Roger acknowledges that there are many challenges and he feels quite blessed that he has the resources to have help in the home so that he is not caring for Peggy alone. There are over 16 million people providing unpaid care for someone living with Alzheimer’s, and the toll on the health of the caregiver is often overlooked.

While Peggy is now non-verbal, she still communicates via her stuffed animals, facial expressions and mischievous ways. As Roger and I sit at lunch, his love for his wife is evident, and while the challenges are difficult, he told me that ‘the love story continues’, even 15 years into an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

 I am sharing his and Peggy’s story as a beacon of hope for all those living with Alzheimer’s, and all those caregivers struggling – Roger and Peggy found beauty in the cards that they were dealt, and they refuse to be defined by a disease that has robbed them of so much. They are an inspiration, and I hope that reading their story will bring a smile to your face, a light in your heart, and new hope that with love, life can still be beautiful, no matter the challenge.

The Serenity Prayer

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.’

What does this prayer have to do with hiking, the Temple Project, or the Longest Day? Quite a lot actually….I have written about the importance of eating well to train for a long event; I have written about the importance of good gear; and I have writing about the importance of training your body to be prepared for the rigor of long hike in hot and rugged terrain.

Equally important, as you are training your body, is to also be training your mind.  What does that mean? It means being mindful of your body and listening to when it needs rest; it means taking time to reflect on what you are doing and why you are doing it; it means understanding that what you ‘expect’ and what actually happens may not be the same thing; it means that your definition of success may be an ever changing target. 

This journey for me, comes after many years of advocating and fundraising to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. And, twenty years later, that cure is still elusive, but I will continue to seek answers, raise awareness and push others to do the same.  Simply because we still don’t have a cure, does not mean I stop fighting, it just means I adjust my sails and keep moving. Whatever your journey, there will always be challenges and obstacles….some you will overcome, and some, maybe not, but having the proper focus and mental fortitude will help you through even the most difficult days – at the end of the day, I wish for you the ‘serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ 

Who says healthy food can’t taste good?!

Training for an activity, whether it is running, swimming, skiing, hiking, or just to stay fit, is much more than just the physical training itself. Getting rest, staying emotionally motivated, and of course, proper nutrition are all key to success.

But, healthy eating while we are all leading busy lives is sometimes easier said than done. I try to set aside some time each Sunday, to prepare some meals for the week so that I have a fridge full of healthy choices. This week, I made a big pot of vegetarian lentil soup, full of healthy protein, potatoes, and other veggies. I also made some escarole soup with shitake mushrooms and beans. For a change from bean protein, I made a one dish meal of shrimp, garlic, fennel, tomato and feta cheese – simple, low fat – I will serve it with some sauteed arugula and voila, healthy meal!

For those busy mornings, I made some gluten free lemon blueberry muffins with flax and chia. While I am not allergic to gluten, I do find that eating gluten reduced helps the inflammation in my hands from arthritis. After some trial and error I have found many recipes that are as good as those made with regular flour, and this is one of them. Full of blueberries, corn meal, flax and chia, they are delicious and nutritious too!

Since I grew up in an Italian family, no dinner is complete with coffee and dessert -to satisfy the sweet tooth and not blow the healthy eating goals, I made flourless oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chip, chia and flax cookies – they are easy and delicious!

And, finally, I can’t forget our pup, Willow – she is one lucky dog – today I made her 12 pounds of food consisting of chicken, lentils, brown rice, spinach, green beans, sweet potatoes and carrots. Since she does some training with me, I have to keep her healthy too!


Now that I am set for the week for food, I can focus more on my preparations for The Temple Project hike. If you would like any of the recipes, or if you are interested in learning more about the project, who we are, and why we are doing this journey, visit :
http://bit.ly/karenshike  

Wishing you a great week !

Preparations

When I decided to join the team on the Temple Project, I knew that this was going to be a very big challenge, both physically, and emotionally. I consider myself relatively ‘fit’, but hiking is not my usual exercise of choice, and certainly hiking these distances was not something I had ever done. 

I know that the only way to accomplish my goal is with hard work and determination – I also know that having the proper gear is essential to helping me reach the finish line.  To that end, I took a ride to REI in Yonkers this past weekend and a very big thank you to the team there for getting me started with some great hiking shoes!

Next week, a new back pack is on the list – any suggestions??