QueenAnntics

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3 Reasons Why You Won’t Fall Off the Face of the Earth

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments

blog feedNow that I have your attention. Has anyone else noticed that the typical blogging model has defaulted into compiling a list of things: 3 you must know or 5 things you must do?  It seems that so many posts use this format to lure readers.  I have used it myself although I try not to overdo it.  However, here are just a few Tweets I pulled off my feed moments ago:

  • 5 Design Trends that Could Derail Apple’s iWatch
  • 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire A Publicist
  • 14 Social Media Blogs We Should Love
  • 10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day
  • 13 Habits of Extraordinary Bosses

But I wonder, are we overusing this format so much that readers are begininning to ignore it?   How many lists can one possibly heed before you finally begin turn your attention elsewhere?

Social media and blogging has fascinated me for quite some time.  I remember thinking back in the MySpace days that I would love to be a sociology, psychology or media Ph.D candidate because formulating a thesis would be like shooting fish in a barrel.  There are so many questions to answer.

In this case, we know people ignore something that they experience too often. Spending too much time with a significant other breeds complacency.  Tornado alarms are regularly ignored in places where they heard often.  And here.  Are we going to stop reading blog posts that offer a list of must knows or must dos?

Interesting question. Maybe the efficiency of essential lists is exactly what we need and we will never grow tired of it.   I think I have though, or I wouldn’t have written this post in the first place.  What’s your take?

(I was also experimenting with the 12 minute blog post- could I write a post in 12 minutes as suggested by a fellow blogger recently?  This one took 20 minutes.)

 

Posted in Ooooo That's Deep!, Queen Ann Soapbox

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The Bradury-Holm Communication Device

February 16th, 2013 | No Comments

photo (4)How many of you have “invent something” on your bucket list?  Well my friend and former colleague, Carmen Bradbury and I can check this off our lists.  Behold the Bradbury-Holm Communication device.

This device was created to address the needs of a patient who had unclear yes-no responses, relying on eye blinks to get her needs met. Her family felt comfortable with the accuracy of those responses but we were struggling.  Hence we tried to come up with something that would help untrained observers understand her needs. Our clever invention required only a slight amount of thumb movement to light up a clear yes or no response.  It also helped the client get definitive feedback about what her response actually was.  It was easily the most impressive Yes-No device ever invented, if I do say so myself.

Regrettably though, the brilliant simplicity of our one of a kind creation, seems to have fallen into disuse after it’s pilot run.  In fact, here is the only photo of it, as far as we know. It’s probably sitting on a dusty shelf at our former place of employment.  What a sad place for our creation.

And yet, how much fun did we have inventing it?  For that matter, how much fun did we have being on the same team coming up with creative ways to meet the needs of our clients, lo those years ago?   I have moved onto to private practice in personal development coaching and Carmen has other endeavors as well.  Still I must say, we were truly lucky to have crossed paths professionally.

 

 

 

 

Posted in This Is Madness, What a Discovery!

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Stay Curious My Friend

July 25th, 2012 | 2 Comments

Currywurst tastes better when have studied the culture and learned the language while in school.

Once upon a time, in 1976, my father wrote me a letter because I wasn’t taking school too seriously.   In the letter he stated,

“But there is a second and maybe more important reason for studying hard. The more you study and learn, the more your mind will expand to look at life a little differently than persons who are not well-educated. That is hard for me to describe and for you to understand, I’m sure. All I know is that the better educated and more knowledgeable a person is, the more meaningful and satisfying their life seems to be for them.”

Any travel will expand your world view.  However, when you visit a place where you have studied the culture and learned the language, a whole new experience awaits you.  On a recent trip to Berlin, I really saw what my dad was talking about in his letter.

While my husband and I took in the experience at one level,  my children, who had studied German in high school and college, took everything in at an entirely different level.   They understood the tour guides, the restaurant menus, and signage in both German and English.  They had seen the movies that the tour guide referenced in his presentations.   They were so in sync with the experience that they spent most of the time shopping, sitting together and speaking German to each other while my husband and I did our own thing.  They even talked about returning to Berlin with their older sister who also studied German, once everyone was graduated.   The three of them together-sans mom and dad.

Clearly, this is what my dad was talking about when he said that it’s important to do well in school.  He was talking about a quality of life issue.

My husband and I are well-educated also but in this instance, my kids knew even more about this part of the world, the language and the culture, which clearly enhanced their experience.    When my dad wrote that letter to me so many years ago, it was the vision of a more interesting life that captured my attention, not a carrot and stick bargain for better grades or a threat of restriction and punishment.  It’s the idea that if you make it a priority to expand your mind, a whole new world awaits you.

Stay curious my friend.

 

Posted in Ooooo That's Deep!, Queen Ann Soapbox

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The Journey Back

May 23rd, 2012 | 5 Comments

Carly Czajka describes the journey back to health after addressing an eating disorder.   Carly, a talented and experienced writer, is a new guest blogger on QueenAnntics.net.   

Ann Holm

 

Eating disorders get a bad rep.

 

To some parts of society, I am an over-privileged, bored American girl wanting to shrink her thighs. I am vain. I am wholly self-concerned. And if I wanted to stop, I could just stop; health is an option I’m just not interested in. For those of us experiencing an eating disorder, however, they are just the opposite. An eating disorder, we know, is soul crushing. Overpowering. Ubiquitous. And they are difficult as all hell to get rid of. To be normal is almost inconceivable and, as (I suppose) I get closer to that goal, I constantly wonder how wide the gap between my illness and my health actually is. As I improve, I am often perplexed by this ever-shrinking gap between normalcy and sickness, health and disorder. Again and again, the question that keeps coming up in my mind is “how much of my treatment philosophy am I supposed to forget as I get well?”

 

To truly understand what I mean by this question, it’s crucial to understand what the treatment process was like for me. In August of 2011, I checked into the River Centre Clinic is Sylvania, OH. The program is based on calorie counting and meal planning; with daily weigh-ins, the program is aimed at determining the amount of calories necessary to maintain a body’s natural “set point,” or the weight at which it functions most naturally and comfortably. A perfectly reasonable philosophy, it seems. The tricky part, however, was the way the staff at RCC expected a patient to meet their given calories: through frozen and packaged food. Now, of course, given the way that our culture consistently demonizes any food that isn’t fresh, free of fat, and “wholesome,” the prospect of eating nothing but these processed foods for weeks at a time was truly terrifying, especially to eating disorder patients afraid of eating anything, let alone foods they associate with weight gain, personal weakness, or shame.

 

In structuring the program this way, patients such as myself were forced to face whatever food related fears they have head on; to finish the program was to consider each food, whether ice cream or pizza or a frozen meal, equally. Everything, RCC purported, is safe if it is consumed in the right proportion. On an individual basis, then, each patient (after about a week or so) was responsible for creating their own daily meal plans aimed at particular challenges for the week. To spread the choices out evenly, we not only had to meet a calorie amount, but also had to stay within a fat range, or a certain proportion of fat grams relative to the calories consumed. This rigidity of diet was terrifying for us; how this method could teach us to eat again was a black box that we couldn’t possibly comprehend. How, if we are told to eat only fresh, organic, and wholesome foods, could we be healthy on packaged food alone? It was a philosophy that, in order to get well, we just had to trust would work.

 

Obviously, following this program at RCC was difficult enough, but after a couple of weeks patients traveled home for a day or a weekend to test out their skills, to see how well they could use what they had learned in therapy to manage the stress of an often triggering environment. Sometimes, we failed. To eat everything was a triumph, to make it through the weekend without symptoms a cause for elation. Leaving RCC for good, when I did so six weeks after my check-in date, felt like being thrust into a world I did not understand. No more supervised meals, no more weigh-ins. I could flush the toilet myself (embarrassing, yes, to give up this right, but as I said once in group, “this is where my life is now, sorry ‘bout it”); I was no longer being held accountable by RCC staff. I could get rid of food without anyone knowing. I was responsible for my own recovery now. The only way, I knew, to survive the trials of the coming months (because eating disorder recovery is by no means a quick fix) was to trust in what I had learned: meal plan, forgo exercise, and believe.

 

And so I did.

 

But now, symptom free for almost ten months, I wonder how much of what I learned I still need to hold on to. I no longer sit down each night with my calculator, working out how to exactly hit my calorie amount. And strangely, I no longer need to. But I still wonder: am I healthy by eating what I want and not feeling bad about it? I often feel like my eating disorder is a constant presence, lurking around every corner waiting to jump out. It’s everywhere: a bad angle in a mirror, a seemingly innocent comment about how I used to look, a serving of dessert. Do I or don’t I? Is the way I look okay? Or the million-dollar question: when, if ever, will I be normal? And how, when I’m there, will I even know what normal is?

 

Maybe this is how: a few days ago, I tried to run. To work out this way, as a therapist once told me, could be like crack; once I did it, I might be hooked. To do so, for a person like me, was a risk. While tying up my shoes, guilt. While walking down to the lake, guilt. First few strides, guilt. And then I realized how much fun I wasn’t having. And then I stopped. No guilt.  As I walked, I looked around. To my left, a sparkling lake. Surrounding it, trees. And for the first time in my life I realized how beautiful it all was; even more importantly, I realized, while I was sick, how much of this I couldn’t see. Ten months ago, I would be too busy having symptoms, trying not to feel, to even take this walk. In a moment I realized that this was normal: to enjoy a day, by a lake, and to simply not run.

 

Treatment and that philosophy, then, was a crucial stepping stone. It was a tool I once needed to get to where I am now. Meal planning brought me to a place where I could understand food. Not exercising brought me to a place where I could understand the perfect validity of just not wanting to do it and, if I didn’t, that it was okay. In wondering how much of RCC’s lessons I’m supposed to hold on to, I’ve been led back to the experiences I’ve had, which demonstrate that a gradual letting go is probably the most natural thing I could do.

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Ooooo That's Deep!, The Carly Czajka Page

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Molly’s Rude Awakening: An Unexpected Delight in an Unlikely Place

May 16th, 2012 | 4 Comments

The walls outside of Molly's Rude Awakening are colorful and rad.

Molly’s Rude Awakening is an unexpected delight in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. For over 25 years, I have traveled Interstate 94 between my home in Minnesota and points east, especially 50 or more trips to Detroit where I grew up.   I thought I knew every gas station, restaurant, coffee shop, and convenience store along the way.

One morning about 6 weeks ago, I headed to the swimming pool at 3am before hitting the road.  When I was done, there were no coffee shops open so I started on my way hoping I would find a convenient Caribou or Starbucks along the way (road warriors deserve an excellent cup of coffee).

By the time I reached Black River Falls, Wisconsin, about 2 hours outside of the Twin Cities, I pulled over for a little car nap at the BP gas station.  Having had no coffee, I still wasn’t fully awake.  So I snoozed for 20 minutes.  As I was leaving the BP, I spotted a gloriously painted building that turned out to be a coffee shop.  Molly’s Rude Awakening!  I circled around it a couple of times then decided to give it a try.   How can you pass up a place like this?

As it turns out, not only was the exterior clever and hip, the cup of coffee was excellent.  My skinny latte was as good as anything I have gotten at Starbucks or Caribou!   The drink and the place gave a lasting impression.

A few weeks later, I was on the road again, this time with my husband and a friend.  As we traveled through Wisconsin, I started talking about this unusual coffee shop.  As a life coach, I am always excited about someone who dares to follow a dream.  I had to show them this place.

This time, we went inside.  It turns out that the interior is just as funky as the exterior.  There is food and other merchandise.   Plus, there’s a whole calendar of events that Molly’s sponsors such as Give Back Tuesday where local non-profits get $1 in coins for every drink sold. There are aerobics and zumba classes, and live music on Friday nights.

I have to give the owner, Molly Hoffman credit. She came up with a unique idea and made it fly in the unlikely location of Black River Falls, Wisconsin.   So next time you are on Interstate 94,  I recommend you give Molly’s a try.  I have a feeling this place will continue to evolve into a one-of -a -kind destination.

MAP TO MOLLY’S RUDE AWAKENING: http://www.mollysrudeawakening.com/map/

 

 

 

Posted in What a Discovery!

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What Tames Fear?

April 18th, 2012 | No Comments

Hovering over the clouds in a 2-mile free fall

I resolved to skydive to celebrate my 50th birthday despite being a dedicated fear of heights chicken. On my 45th birthday, I vowed, after jumping off of a 32 foot cliff in Jamaica, that I would skydive next. You can check out my  pre-skydiving blog to confirm that I really was a overcoming a long-standing fear of heights to do this.

Now, if you watch my You Tube video of the actual jump (see below), you might think I would be scared out of my wits at least at some point.  If nothing else, the pre-skydiving video I had to watch prior to jumping should have rattled me a little. The short film explicitly states all of the dangers of sky diving including death.  The ambulance in the video makes it clear that this could end very badly. The video also features the inventor of the tandem parachute, Bill Booth (who basically looks like Rasputin or Osama Bin Laden) telling you that no parachute is foolproof. After that pleasantry, you sign your life away via several legal documents.

However, I wasn’t scared in the least. In the video, you will see a relaxed person who jumps without hesitation.   Was this really me?  Nary a bone was rattling in my body as I anticipated the jump.  Why?

What tames fear? Is it because a worse fear displaces a current fear?  In my case, did I fear being teased for now following through on my plan, schemed 5 years earlier with great bravado?  Maybe.  Or, was it a feeling of being invincible?  Many young people are fearless because of incomplete ability to judge real consequences.   I am probably too old to be consider myself invincible although I do remember having the feeling that this wasn’t going to be my day to die.  Or was it resolve, the firm decision to accomplish task?

I do believe in my case it was resolve that tamed my fear.  As I approached 50, I wanted this to be a symbol of how I wanted things to go for the next 50 years.  My first 50 years were excellent but they really were colored by important commitments to be a relatively well-behaved daughter, a supportive wife, and to raise 3 good citizens, to teach them to use their talents and to nurture them.  Now that I am more of a “consultant” to them, there is every reason for me to jump into these next years with gusto.

And in all seriousness, my father died at age 51 not far from where I was going to do my jump.  You really don’t know when the “deal will go down” for you so it’s important to do a few bold things while you still have the chance.   Bold does not equal foolhardy, by the way.   I did do some research before I went through with it.

YouTube Preview Image

 

Posted in This Is Madness, Wagers and other Bad Ideas

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Skydive Dedication

March 15th, 2012 | No Comments

My Dad

“Your mother looks beautiful with her hair like that” were his last words before he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the Little Bar restaurant in Marco Island, Florida. He said them to me and I was the only one who heard them. He was 51 years old and the year was 1989.   I cannot adequately describe the shock that goes with an experience like this.  Nothing has ever matched the pain of calling my brothers and his mother to tell them what had happened, and to say that he did not make it.

Now as I approach my 50th birthday, I am returning to Marco Island for only the second time since he died. The first time I returned, we visited that restaurant and although the food was good and the company was grand, it was unpleasant.  I really didn’t want to go back.

I had always worried about my dad.  His family had heart disease and he really didn’t take good care of himself.  I would lay awake at night wondering if I would get, “the call” saying something had happened.  Shortly before we left for Florida on that trip in 1989, I resolved to quit worrying.  And I did.  And he died.  For a long time, I thought that I had been in control over this.  If I had kept worrying,  there may have been a different outcome.  For years that mindset would creep up, oftentimes worrying about my children but other things too. I often resolved that this time I wasn’t going to leave it to fate.  Or to God.   Look what happened last time. So I would torture myself with quiet worry.

Now as I return to Marco, I have planned a skydive for my 50th birthday.  I want to jump into my next half century of life.  Do something that rattles me a little.  Do it in South Florida  (I changed my location from Tallahassee to Homestead.  It’s as close as I could get to Marco).  I am going to jump with my son Andrew, who is named after my dad.  And I am going to dedicate this jump to my dad who taught me to challenge myself and not to be afraid.

What’s more, my good friend VuV wanted to take me out for coffee… to plan my eulogy!  We had always agreed we would do each other’s eulogies.  He thought it made sense to work on mine before I jumped.  What a jinx!  I am glad he brought that up because that adds to the worry soup, a soup I will toss to the wind when I am 10,000 feet in the air and free-falling next week!

* My dad was truly a great guy.  For anyone who wants a flavor for the kind of man he was, I have published a letter on annholm.net that  he wrote to me in high school when I was screwing up my grades by not trying.   

 

 

Posted in Very Cool People

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Chickens Can’t Fly But Can They Jump?

February 15th, 2012 | 1 Comment

True confession. I get dizzy standing on a tall chair. For most of my life, I have had a fear of heights. High dives? If I wasn’t showing off, I wasn’t jumping. My heart still races when I look over the top of an open parking structure. I have steadfastly refused to take a hot air balloon ride for fear I would either fall out or jump on impulse. One time while in Hawaii, I moved furniture in front of the glass door just in case I might wake up in the middle of the night and jump off the 23rd floor balcony. On a chairlift, I remind myself, “Look ahead not down!”

So why am I leaping out of an airplane at 9,000 feet with an expected free fall of 60 seconds, to celebrate my 50th birthday next month? Good question.

I declared my intent to skydive after I jumped off of a 33 foot cliff in Negril, Jamaica 5 years ago. Believe me, I approached the jump off point several times before I finally took the leap. I remember thinking that I had enough time to question my sanity before I actually hit the water.  You enter water with a pretty good smack and I learned afterward that some people actually fracture their spine doing this same jump.  Yikes! Nevertheless the  best part was that I experienced the exhilarating thrill of overcoming my fear of heights. In that adrenaline filled moment of swagger, I vowed that I would jump out of a plane on my 50th birthday.

Today I made my reservations at the School of Human Flight in Tallahasee, Florida. The School of Human Flight. How can you go wrong with a name like that? A long time friend, who is a professor at Florida State recommended the place. The irony is that my friend is an expert in phobias and I don’t think he knows that Mrs. Phobia will be channeling his vibes when I step out of the plane. The secret is out. I only wish he could meet me on the other side with a celebatory cocktail but alas, he will be on holiday with his family.

Anyway, the time is fast approaching when I will follow through on my craziest scheme. What kinds of neurochemicals will bathe my brain as I wahooooooo out of that plane and experience the free fall? I know some people speak of the experience as no big deal. For me, it WILL be a big deal because as you know, chickens can’t fly. So why am I doing this? No clue, but I suspect I will have the answer after I jump.

Posted in This Is Madness

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My Friend Laura

December 2nd, 2011 | No Comments

I would like to introduce you to Laura.  I have known her since our days at University of Michigan in the early 80′s.  She is a sorority sister even though I didn’t stay in the sorority for very long.  We have always stayed in touch. At age 40, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Now approaching her 50th birthday, she continues to inspire me and many others with her faith, her resilience, and her energy.  I can’t count the times I stopped in to visit her thinking, “Oh well, I won’t stay long because she probably isn’t feeling too chipper, ” only to find her bounding to the door with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager!

I admire Laura for many reasons.  Her book, Praying Through Cancer is a 90-day Christian devotion to help people get through the tougher times that come with the treatment and concern about the future when you have this disease. It has now been translated into several languages, something I am sure Laura never dreamed would happen.  In fact, I am certain that this book is a success because it comes from the heart and from her unshakable faith in God even through tough times.

Another thing that has always astounded me about Laura is her incredible recall of details.  She can rattle off dates and details and facts as if the information was written down right in front of her.  Or her attention to detail.  One day, I stopped into visit and she was talking about the weeds that needed to be pulled. What weeds, Laura?  Everything looked pretty good to me!   Your attention to detail makesyou good at everything you did.  I admire that for I lack that!

Then there was this delicious beverage we used to call, “Clark Iced Tea.”  Her mother used to brew fresh iced tea and top it off  with a mint leaf.  Every time I have iced tea with mint, I say to myself, “Clark Iced Tea.”  It’s funny how you you associate certain things with someone  and most of the time they don’t even know it.  Or the times that they are brought to mind without it ever being said or shared.

Well I am saying it now.  You have inspired me Laura as you have inspired so many others. Your hallmark achievement has been a gracious and tenacious battle with cancer but there are so many others.  Mother.  Wife.  Journalist. Friend. Sorority sister.

I think it was really cool how you recently received dozens of red carnations from the Alpha Chi sisters.  Your dad, an Alpha Chi super fan would have loved that!  But that just shows how many lives you have touched and inspired.  It’s really quite  remarkable.  And so, I raise my glass of Clark Iced Tea to you, friend.   You are awesome!

 

Posted in Very Cool People

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Go Green! Go White!

October 15th, 2011 | 5 Comments

To the honorable Gregory Huszczo, you have won the bet, Green One.  As an honorable Wolverine, I am a woman of my word.  So it is that I wear this State hat and hold the Spartan sweatshirt close to my heart.

What’s more, I consider myself fortunate that my best friend is married to a Spartan, for he was able to provide me with Spartan gear moments after the football game ended.  He offered Spartan slippers too but I declined.  Hasn’t he ever seen the Witch try to touch the ruby slippers?

Let’s hand it to the Spartans for they played an aggressive style of defense that Michigan could not handle.  What’s more, they mustered their Spartan powers to stir up 35mph winds from North to South- East to West, so that they could expose Denard Robinson’s weak suit… passing.  How clever of the Green Ones to command nature as well as pressure the quarterback all day long.

Ok Greg… is that enough yet?  Or do I have to keep going?  Ok keep going….

And I LOVE the color Green!  It brings out my eyes!  It’s the color of money!  It’s the color of emerging life in the Spring!  White is the perfect compliment to Green.  It is pure!  It is the blank canvas where dreams are painted!  It is the color of the good guys.

It has been 4 long years since the Wolverines have beaten the Spartans in football.  This year, I thought it might be different.  So I drew up a bet with Gregory Huszczo, who by the way has a Wolverine son. Since I have not yet authored a book like he has (his part of the wager), I agreed to write a blog in honor of the Spartans. Now that I have done so, I wish I had I offered to drink sixteen ounces of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce instead.  It certainly would have been easier to stomach!

 

Posted in Michigan and Motown, Wagers and other Bad Ideas

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