Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Be Nice to Your Lungs

Back in November I was contacted out of the blue by a gal asking me to write a piece about national Lung Cancer Awareness month (which was in November). Because I am a yoga teacher and I have a blog that is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, she thought it would be a great idea for my blog. I couldn't agree more!
I obviously failed to publish my post during November, but I think this post is even more relevant for me and my neighbors as we are now in the "thick" of inversion season (pun intended).
First, let me tell you about the woman who reached out to me. Her name is Heather Von St. James. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 36. "What is mesothelioma?" you might ask? Take the time to watch the video below and hear Heather's story. I knew nothing about the disease before hearing her story. Heather is my same age which certainly hit home. Her story reminds me why it is so important to take care of our bodies in any and every way that we are capable. In Heather's case, prevention would have been challenging as she was exposed to asbestos as a child, however, there is much that we can do on a daily basis to help keep ourselves healthy.
Now to the reason this is especially relevant for me and my fellow Salt Lake Valley inhabitants now. You see, the Salt Lake Valley is a place where it can be difficult — if not flat out impossible — to avoid air pollution due to the dreaded inversion we have during the winter months. I will refer to the City of Salt Lake web site for the scientific explanation:
"When normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted, a dense layer of cold air is trapped under a layer of warm air. The warm layer acts much like a lid, trapping pollutants in the cold air near the valley floor. The Wasatch Front valleys and their surrounding mountains act like a bowl, keeping this cold air in the valleys. The snow-covered valley floors reflect rather than absorb the heat from the sun, preventing the normal vertical mixing of warm and cold air. Fog exacerbates the problem, facilitating chemical reactions that create even more particles and higher pollutant concentrations. The longer the inversion lasts, the higher the levels of pollution trapped under it. The warm inversion air layer is usually displaced by a strong storm system which restores air quality to healthy levels." (1)
#barf #hack #cough
According to an article in USA Today, when inversion levels are at their peak, "Utah's pollution index is off the charts with readings routinely exceeding a scale that tops out at 70 micrograms a cubic meter. The EPA sets a standard for clean air at no more than 35 micrograms." (2)
As you can imagine, this can be a time of distress for residents living in "the bowl." According to John Horel, a professor in the University of Utah’s department of atmospheric sciences, during the span of December 2013–January 2014, "pollution levels exceeded the standard set for fine particles for a total of 30 days." My asthmatic friends can attest to the onset of breathing trouble that occurs. If you are lucky, you are only effected by a gravelly voice, mildly-sore throats, and having to tolerate the stinky air. If you are asthmatic or already have trouble breathing, the inversion can mean months of irritation until it subsides, one friend of mine wakes to labored breathing so harsh she has to resort to hot steam baths in the middle of the night on a regular basis.
Most of us don't have a vacation home in Fiji that we can retreat to when the air gets bad, so what can we do to reduce our risk of exposure to the inversion, and to air-borne cancer-causing substances?
1. Reduce your output
Have you ever been walking through the parking lot and noticed that someone has left their car running, only to find that there is someone sitting in the car while it idles. If you are like me, it takes all you have not to walk over, open their door, and turn the car off for them. If you are not like me, maybe you might be someone who does this. Please, I beg you to turn off your car if you are sitting in a parking lot!
According to an article in USA Today, "Vehicle emissions account for over half of the pollutants." Right away, that should give us all incentive to drive a little less. Utah doctors have gone so far as to ask that public transit be made free during winter months just to get people off the road.
Doctors also advise that it is best to simply stay inside, avoiding any outdoor exercise or activities while there is the smoggy soup covering the valley. Salt Lake City pediatrician Ellie Brownstein said. "It's essentially like smoking. Instead of breathing clean air, you're breathing particles that make it harder for your lungs to function and get oxygen." (2)
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance states that, "though smoking is more commonly associated with traditional lung carcinomas. Smoking tends to enhance risk even further in those who were also exposed to asbestos." (3) This leads me to believe that exposure to inversion could also enhance your risk were you to be exposed to asbestos.
The Utah Air Quality web site has many more great suggestions for reducing your output as well.
2. Get involved
There are many volunteer opportunities out there to help spread awareness about lung cancer, inversion, etc. Last year, I participated in the Utah Clear the Air Challenge in which you logged all the miles you managed not to drive during a single month. But this is something that you could do all year long.
Here are a few other sites to help you get started:
3. Get checked
If you think you might have been exposed to asbestos in your lifetime, or if you are experiencing symptoms, it would be wise to be checked as "There is a great deal of latency associated with mesothelioma between exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms."

(1) "Winter Inversions: What Are They and What We Can All Do To Help." Winter Inversions: What Are They and What We Can All Do To Help. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.
(2) Press, Paul. "Sickening Fog Settles over Salt Lake City Area." USA Today. Gannett, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.
(3) "Mesothelioma Causes." - Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Faith Preceded the Miracle

I'm not sure what to call this post, so I am going to just start writing.

I have had this blog for a while now. Since 2008 I believe. I started it back when I was trying to make what I thought was a major life change which at the time equated to doing the Master Cleanse. I lasted two days. Since then, this blog has been a place to vent, to mark virtual places with personal meaning that I wanted to remember, and at times to mark milestones in my life. Some of those being my engagement, the end of my engagement, Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, and my wedding. (I think I skipped over my divorce here. I am sure I will write about that one day.)

Now I am writing about what I believe to be the biggest milestone in my life so far, because I know that my life is now forever changed. I reached a point and a realization from whence there is no turning back.

On my solo road trip a few weeks back (see last post) I wound up going to the California coast. Due to a series of unplanned events, I wound up at the South Jordan Library just before I left town in search of a good book on tape to have as my travel companion. I happened to see one called "Faith Precedes the Miracle." As I have been focusing on manifesting small miracles in my life (a new place to live, money, and achieving several other dreams) I quickly grabbed the book. Then I saw that it was written by Spencer W. Kimball who if you are not familiar was a Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A church which I was no longer attending. A church which I left when I was around the age of 15. A church I was raised in and have been contemplating returning to for nearly twenty years. A church that I had finally decided I needed to investigate again as an adult to decide once and for all whether or not I believed.

I picked up the Spencer W. Kimball book, along with several others, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Mark Twain), The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag (Alan Bradley), Eat, Pray, Love (What's her name), and No Doubt About It (Sherrie Dew) and the Champagne Lady and I hit the road.

It took me exactly two days to make it to the coast. Starting off early day three on Hwy 1 my car and I headed along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Once out of San Francisco I was completely alone - even the road was empty - so I inserted disc one of Faith Precedes the Miracle into my CD player and it was there, on Hwy 1, cruising along the edge of the ocean where life as I knew it transformed. The spirit bore witness to me countless times that God exists. that I was listening to the words of living prophet of God, that every word was true, that all the feelings and thoughts I had been fighting for the last twenty years were real, and I could deny them no longer.

I will not go into further detail here, suffice to say that the book covered just about every topic, every question that I have had in my heart for the longest time, and made it all crystal clear. I highly recommend picking it up. Be warned, President Kimball was not one to sugar-coat things, which was highly refreshing for me, but be prepared for some straight talkin!

What I do want to go into here on my blog are the things I am doing to make the transition back to "the church" after having been away for so long, I searched for a while for some kind of advice, or for a story that was similar to mine to help guide me there. While the best advice of course is to pray and read the Book of Mormon, I want to share my story in hopes that it will inspire anyone out there who might have similar feelings and questions and curiosities but wants to see how one might go about making the transition as this was something I would have highly valued all these years.

I've chosen to stop drinking, stop smoking, stop drinking coffee - currently a work in progress - start wearing more modest clothes - a particularly intimidating one for me - stop having a sex life outside of marriage - so far no problem. All of these will be lifelong commitments, but the first steps can often be the most difficult.

I am up to my neck in it right now and hope that sharing my story will help others.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I need to get out of town and into some desert. And some dessert.

View Larger Map

Or some big skies...

View Larger Map

Friday, March 28, 2014

I remember

There was a time they used to tell me I sounded like Johnny Marr.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2013 in Review Quiz Revisited

1:What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Did my first of many Advanced Bikram classes, visited Newquay, Padstow, Yorkshire, the Lake District, Stirling and Edinburgh, Taught Bikram in Liverpool, Practiced in London, New York and San Francisco, Hiked the narrows of Zion, hiked Zebra Slot Canyon, Rode an ATV through Escalante, Hiked through Capital Reef National Park, Herded free range cows in the La Sals, started training for my first asana competition, started the divorce process,survived a broken heart, spent New Years Eve with my family (okay this isn't something I had never done, but it's been about 15 years.)
 2:Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't make any, this year I hope to continue to build strength
3:Did anyone close to you give birth?
4:Did anyone close to you die?
Angie, Johnny
5:What countries did you visit?
England, Scotland, America
6:What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
See #2, a relationship with someone that will last, and maybe an Iceland stamp on my passport. :D
7:What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 22, the day my marriage ended, November 18, the day the divorce started
8:What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Surviving, growing, living
9:What was your biggest failure?

10:Did you suffer illness or injury?
Injured my shoulder - this time my AC joint
11:What was the best thing you bought?
A blue ceramic mug from a garage sale. I drink my tea from it all day every day.
12:Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Ruby, Elizabeth, Mandy, Mom, Misty, Brad, Niki, Jay, Becky
13:Whose behaviour made you appalled?
Do I have to say it?
14:Where did most of your money go?
Paying off my debt
16:What song will always remind you of 2013?
Spaceship Orion - Ozark Mountain City Devils
17:Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
a) happier
b) definitely thinner
c) poorer but soon to be better
18:What do you wish you’d done more of?
19:What do you wish you’d done less of?
20:How did you spend Christmas?
with my family
 21:Did you fall in love in 2013?
22:What was your favourite TV program?
Breaking Bad
23:Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a very strong word
24:What was the best book you read?
25:What was your greatest musical discovery?
Judy Collins (rediscovered)
Style Council
26:What did you want and get?
got a new position at work, got teaching positions at BYSL and BYBC
27:What did you want and not get?
wanted to stay married, but now am grateful that I am not
28:What was your favourite film of this year?
I saw a lot of crap movies last year
29:What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The amount of self-love and self-realization I experienced
30:How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
American Yogi in Manchester moves back to Salt Lake and loves leggings
31:What kept you sane?
yoga, yoga, friends, family, and yoga
32:Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
33:What political issue stirred you the most?
gay marriage
34:Who did you miss?
35:Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Family is everything
36:Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
.... All you must hold on to is you, is you, is you  .....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Proposed Route For Richard's First Tour of Southern Utah

Richard and I are coming to Utah this summer and I am SO excited to get back! We are going to rent an RV of sorts so that he can see the magnificence that is Utah. Here is my proposed route...

View Larger Map